Today, as Rishi Sunak becomes Prime Minister, Health Stores UK issues a reminder to the former Chancellor of his pledge to protect local high streets.

Sunak, who held the position of Chancellor under Boris Johnson’s Government, is noted to have said during political hustings in the summer that supporting high streets and town centres would be ‘top of mind’ should he take office.

The now PM – who took over from Liz Truss this morning – has previously pledged to cut the so-called ‘Shops Tax’, declaring that ‘these [retail] communities need support’. “It’s the Conservative thing to do to make sure our communities are strong. The best way to help them is through business rates. That’s what I did as Chancellor and that’s what I’ll do as Prime Minister,” Sunak said.

We urge Rishi Sunak to honour the pledge he made recently to cut business rates for retailers

Len Glenville, Health Stores UK co-chair, congratulates Sunak on his new premiership, but urges him to uphold his promise to safeguard the future of independent retail. “We hope that the new Prime Minister will work with his Cabinet colleagues to stabilize the economy and end the prolonged period of uncertainty businesses have endured.

“Specifically, we urge Rishi Sunak to honour the pledge he made recently to cut business rates for retailers. As it stands, small retailers face the prospect of a 50% increase in business rates from April next year, when the current rates relief scheme ends. Combined with soaring energy prices and other rising business costs, this presents an existential threat for many independent bricks and mortar retailers. To avert this the Government must now prioritize fundamental changes to the ‘Shops Tax’.

“We call on the Prime Minister to implement a permanent reduction in business rates to protect businesses that provide so much value to local economies and communities.”