Friday, 13 December 2013

Should Cornwall impose a supermarket levy

The organisation Local Works are lobbying for councils to impose the so called 'Supermarket Levy'. This is already done in Northern Ireland, Scotland and recently Oxford. But recently other councils have rejected the idea such as Bristol. I want to know people's views on the matter, there are real advantages and disadvantages to the idea, I'll explain some of it below, provide some links and encourage you to vote in the poll on the right.

Basically the levy applies to large retailers, so it's dubbed the supermarket levy but does apply to all retailers with a rateable of £500,000 a year, this is a tiny proportion of retailers. After a quick search on the VOA website, the shops with the highest rates in Penzance town centre are New Look (£158,000) Poundland (£116,000) and Poundstretcher (£121,000) with the others being considerably less. Sainsbury's isn't listed, nor Morrison's, but Tesco's is and is valued at £730,000. This gives some indication of how large a retailer has to be and indicates a very small number of Cornish town center retailers would be included.

The levy rate is a maximum of 8.5% and then the authority in our case Cornwall Council receives this money. It's then up to the authority to decide how to spend the money. The obvious argument would be to use that money to level the playing field for town centers, investing in transport, lowering parking and increasing other amenities to attract people into town. But obviously the money could just be thrown in the pot and pay for other services, a debate that would need to be had. You can see I've got this far without mentioning how much it would be, the simple answer is I don't know, it would take considerable research to work it out for a lowly blogger like myself. I understand that Cornwall Council are currently considering the idea, but unsure over whether the 8.5% levy would be desirable or in fact whether to do implement a levy at all.

From a personal perspective I agree with the various points Local Works make: Supermarkets lead to shops closing, they take money out of the local economy, leads to fewer jobs they expand on these arguments very well here. But the proposal does need careful consideration, it's a pretty easy proposal in Penzance no town center shops would be effected but elsewhere in Cornwall it might effect some of the larger in town retailers. This proposal can only brought by Cornwall Council so it needs to be a Cornwall wide decision. I want to know what people think, please vote in the poll on the top right whether you agree or not. Contact me through the usual channels with questions or comments. Alternatively if you like the idea Local Works has a page for contacting your Cornwall Councilor (or your councilor elsewhere) to lobby them for this change, click here.