08 October 2013
Local Works has started a campaign to introduce a levy on big supermarkets, and they need people and groups to lobby their local authorities, asking the authorities to submit a proposal under the Sustainable Communities Act for the levy to be set up.
The proposal is for local authorities to be given the power to place a levy on large supermarkets in their areas and to use the revenue from it on creating local sustainability. This won't happen without Councils asking Government for the right to do it, so please read the detail below and then send a letter from your food partnership to the leader of your local authority. You can download suggested wording for the letter here.
Specifically the proposal is for government to give local authorities the power to introduce a levy of 8.5% of the rateable value on large retail outlets in their area with a rateable annual value not less that £500,000 and for the revenue to be retained by local authorities in order to be used to help improve their local communities. This could generate hundreds of millions of pounds for local authorities across the country to spend on making their areas more sustainable.
- The proposal is based on legislation passed last year by the Northern Ireland Parliament to add a levy on large supermarkets of 8.5% based on their current rateable value. Last year the Scottish Parliament passed similar legislation for a levy of 9.3%. Such precedent means this campaign is winnable;
- Evidence shows that the revenue from the Northern Ireland levy has helped over 8,000 small businesses in Northern Ireland and has had no negative impact on jobs. The levy is being used to help public services in Scotland;
- Furthermore the concerns that some have raised about this levy are unfounded: the British Retail Consortium (the lobbying body representing the large supermarket chains) have specifically said that the levy cost will not be passed on to customers, saying it would be "virtually impossible" to do so;
- The cost of this levy to the large supermarket chains that it would affect would be modest whilst the revenue it could bring would be significant and make a real difference to local communities;
- Councils would keep the revenue raised by the levy to spend on promoting the sustainability of local communities;
- Support: dozens of councils (of all party leaderships) have expressed interest in submitting the proposal and we want to gather these and other councils together in support and to lobby the government to agree the proposal. We are asking other key organisations on the Local Works coalition to state their support. So far NFSP, UNISON and PCS Union have agreed.
You can download our suggested letter to send to the leader of your council here. The details of all Council Leaders relevant to all current Sustainable Food Cities members are here. If the details for the leader of your council are not on here, please check your local authority’s website.