A SALES tax is being mooted as the answer to struggling businesses in Castle Point.

Businesses across the borough have been hit hard by rising business rates, which are currently set based on the commercial value of the property.

Now, a committee wants that scheme scrapped and businesses to be charged rates based on the amount of goods they sell.

Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris, who is part of the Business Innovation and Skills Parliamentary Select Committee, says the plans will give independent shops a chance against retail giants.

The select committee has written to the Government asking it to consider the reforms.

Grouts the Bakers, which has branches across south Essex including Canvey and Benfleet, supports the plans and says it will inject life back into the high street.

Owner Giles Grout said: “I think the plans make a lot of sense as it is inconceivable that smaller businesses pay the same rates as a big warehouse.

“It is a very interesting report.

I hope the Government go on to implement these findings and revamp the rates system to help our high streets. Any help to help revitalise our town centres will always be welcome.”

The Echo reported yesterday businesses in Castle Point were suffering due to a combination of parking charges and business rates.

Mrs Harris said a sales tax would be the best way to level the playing field between high street and online retailers.

She said: “With more and more retail business happening online, the current system seriously penalises high street traders. A massive online retailer with sales in the billions and a national delivery network for example only pays business rates based on the property value of a few warehouses and offices around the country, but the local baker, dry cleaner, jeweller or pet shop owner who turns over tens of thousands a year and only serves their local community, has to pay a massive proportion of their income on the property value of their only shop.”

! A tax paid to the Government for the sales of certain goods and services, not the rateable value of a property.

A sales tax would see different items taxed a certain amount, dependent on how much they cost.