Lib Dems to call for levy on large supermarkets

Southwark's supermarkets should be asked to pay more tax to level the playing field for smaller shops, local Liberal Democrats have said.

A 'supermarket levy' has already been introduced in Northern Ireland, where it has apparently given a much-needed boost to small businesses vying for trade against the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury's.

Now Liberal Democrat councillors will be proposing a similar tax is introduced in Southwark, charging higher business rates on large retail units across the borough.

In Southwark, the largest 10 supermarkets and retail outlets would be liable for the levy, which could raise over £1.1 million for the council. The money would then be put back into high streets and local services to support small businesses in the borough.

The levy woul

d only apply to large stores with a rateable value of over £500,000, which would be charged up to 8.5% rateable value. Southwark Liberal Democrats are also urging the council to talk to neighbouring boroughs about bringing in a similar tax to try to make fees consistent across South London.

A motion is being put to the next Council Assembly meeting on 27 November, where councillors of all parties will be asked to vote on the proposal.

Chaucer ward councillor Cllr Tim McNally, who is proposing the motion, said:

"A levy like the one we are proposing wouldn't dent the finances of the big supermarket chains, but would help level the playing field for smaller shops struggling to compete. Large retailers are welcome in the borough and used by many residents. The problem is they can kill off local businesses because they have huge size advantages."

"Liberal Democrats are proposing this idea to show we are on the side of the local business community. I hope councillors from the other parties will also show their support by backing it."