Think tank backs SNP Tesco tax call
DAVID Cameron's favourite think-tank has given the SNP an electoral boost by supporting calls for a "Tesco tax" to be introduced throughout Britain to help revitalise traditional high streets.
ResPublica, headed by Phillip Blond, the architect behind the Prime Minister's Big Society vision, will tomorrow publish a report calling for a tax on large out-of-town retail units similar to the proposal put forward by the SNP before the last Scottish Budget.
The report agrees with the basic principle of such a levy - dubbed the "Tesco Tax" - but wants the money collected directly ploughed back into town and city centres in the form of tax breaks.
The approach, if adopted by the Coalition, runs the risk of further alienating big business in the UK, already angered by Chancellor George Osborne's 10 billion levy on North Sea oil profits over the next five years.
In Scotland, the SNP attempted to introduce the levy earlier this year, claiming that such a tax would raise up to 30 million a year, which could be used to slash the business rates crippling many small businesses. In February, however, Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems at Holyrood voted to block the move.
The SNP has now said that if the party returns to government after the election on 5 May it will revisit the proposal, particularly as the idea was introduced by the Northern Irish Assembly.
The ResPublica report, "The Right to Retail: What localism means for Britain's small retailer", written by senior research fellow Adam Schoenborn, notes that the "big four" supermarkets - Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons - now control nearly 80 per cent of the market.
Blond said: "A bias in the planning systems and their purchasing power has crowded out the competition."
The SNP's determination to introduce a "Tesco tax" is one of the few key policy differences between the four main parties in the run-up to the Scottish election.
A spokesman for Swinney said: "This report indicates that the idea of a retail levy has broad support. It underlines that the opposition parties were wrong to vote it down."
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