Philip Hammond sparks row by dismissing calls to overhaul business rates
Philip Hammond has dismissed calls to rethink business rates to help Britain's ailing high streets, saying he will instead consider other ways to relieve the tax burden on UK firms.
In a letter to MPs – seen by the Daily Mail - the Chancellor said he would look at reforming other corporate taxes ahead of the local levy.
It comes after bosses at retailer Primark warned that companies had become "overburdened" with demands from the Treasury.
MPs on the Treasury Committee will investigate the impact business rates are having on UK high streets later this year.
Ahead of the probe, Committee chair Nicky Morgan has urged the Chancellor to review the current system.
However, Mr Hammond replied to her committee by saying a 2016 inquiry had concluded that rates should not be axed and that the Government was already considering how to tax digital firms.
He wrote: "It is right that we make further progress on this issue before considering the implications for the wider tax system, including business taxes, so that all businesses make a fair contribution to the public finances."
Former Wickes and Iceland boss Bill Grimsey said Mr Hammond’s lack of action on the issue was “dispiriting” for high street firms.
"It shows a total lack of understanding of the economic challenges that entrepreneurs face", he said.
A Treasury spokesman said that the Government had already dished out £10billion in business rates support and said panel of experts would look at issues "affecting the health" of Britain’s high streets.