Aug 31, 2018
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West End body says Crossrail delay makes online tax more urgent

Aug 31, 2018

News that the completion of London’s Crossrail/Elizabeth Line transport project will be delayed by a year has been greeted with dismay by the New West End Company, the body that represents retailers in the key London shopping district, although the group also said it’s important that safety is prioritised.

London's West End will see a delay in the boost that the Crossrail project would have given it - Archiv

Jace Tyrrell, NWEC Chief Executive, said: “We are disappointed that the opening of this major and vital piece of infrastructure is being delayed. However we appreciate and fully support the need to ensure that high safety standards are met.

“But retailers throughout the UK are facing difficult trading conditions with rising costs, changing shopping habits and falling consumer spending, partly because of Brexit uncertainties.

“The economic benefits expected from the Elizabeth line were a welcome boost for West End retailers and would have had a positive impact on stores throughout Britain.

He also said that the delay increases the urgency for the Government to introduce measures to support retailers and high streets. NWEC has been urging the UK authorities to consider its proposal to take action to soften the impact of business rates. Retailers saw a massive 80% rise in their rates in the West End last year.

“By introducing a revenue-based tax on online businesses, so that they pay their fair share to finance local services, the Government could give a significant boost to high street businesses,” Tyrrell added.

“Our proposals for an interim tax of just 1% on online businesses' revenues could produce up to £5 billion each year and give all businesses, including those struggling on high streets, a 17.5% cut in their business rates."

The giant transport project has been delayed to allow for completion of safety works and when fully operational is expected to deliver tens of million more shoppers to London’s West End annually.

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