Suffolk: Call for ‘internet trading tax’

Ian Dalrymple

Ian Dalrymple

Introducing a tax for businesses that trade solely online could help protect the region’s high streets, it has been claimed.

Business leaders in west Suffolk said the move could help restore parity with town centre shops, whose overhead costs mean they cannot match internet prices.

Ian Dalrymple, who owns Intersport, in Whiting Street, Bury St Edmunds, said he is lobbying MPs for a review into an introduction of an internet trading tax.

He explained: “It would mean there’s a parity of overheads between online retailer and high street retailer. At the moment it is disproportionate. I couldn’t possibly sell goods at the retail value that an online supplier has, because he doesn’t have the overheads I have. I’ve got staff to pay, business rates to pay and I’ve got business rent to pay.”

Mr Dalrymple said: “We don’t want to see boarded-up shops with ‘To let’ signs everywhere. We want to see the high street buzzing because it is the heart of the community.”

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The Intersport boss said he hopes the measure could be introduced alongside a cap on business rates. He added: “I don’t see the Government reducing business rates because the money is already spent.

“What they could do is cap it and supplement the loss of revenue from business rates with a tax on the online traders.

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“And of course, if you have got people back on the high street, we need to employ staff and with people back on the high street shopping, surely that’s going to be a good thing.”

Mr Dalrymple, who has written to the Treasury, said the move would also stop people abusing high service standards in stores. He added: “Speaking to other independent retailers, you get a lot of people who come in, get all the information and then buy it online.”

Mark Cordell, chief executive of town centre business improvement group, Bid4Bury, said: “It’s uneven at the moment and if the Government and multi-nationals are genuine in wanting to support the high street then that is one idea to be looked at.”

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