In reaction to the announcement that the opening of Crossrail (Elizabeth line) will be delayed until Autumn 2019, our Chief Executive Jace Tyrrell said:
“We are disappointed that the opening of this major and vital piece of infrastructure is being delayed. However we appreciate and fully support the need to ensure that high safety standards are met.
“But retailers throughout the UK are facing difficult trading conditions with rising costs, changing shopping habits and falling consumer spending, partly because of Brexit uncertainties.
“The economic benefits expected from the Elizabeth line were a welcome boost for West End retailers and would have had a positive impact on stores throughout Britain.
“The delay increases the urgency for the Government to introduce measures to support Britain’s retailers and high streets. In particular we urge the Government to consider seriously our proposal to cut the burden of business rates, which saw a massive 80% rise in the West End last year.
“By introducing a revenue-based tax on online businesses, so that they pay their fair share to finance local services, the Government could give a significant boost to high street businesses.
“Our proposals for an interim tax of just 1% on online businesses’ revenues could produce up to £5 billion each year and give all businesses, including those struggling on high streets, a 17.5% cut in their business rates.
“The postponement of the Elizabeth line opening makes it even more imperative that Government acts now to support the nation’s high street businesses.”