Labour has pledged to take action against “dodgy” American-style candy stores that have been evading taxes, symbolizing the decline of traditional high streets, with over 20 such shops lining London’s Oxford Street alone.
The party claims that these sweet shops are typically operated under shell companies with no assets, utilizing fabricated company directors to avoid paying business rates.
Westminster City Council is actively pursuing unpaid business rates totaling approximately £9 million from 26 candy stores on Oxford Street. Additionally, the council has seized £1 million worth of counterfeit and illegal goods in the past 18 months, including unsafe vapes.
Shadow Treasury minister James Murray emphasized the need for more efforts to encourage the establishment of “legitimate businesses.” He proposed the introduction of a “new shops bonus,” providing a three-month business rates holiday to qualifying stores.
Labour is also advocating for stronger ID requirements for individuals setting up new companies to assist councils in tracking down businesses that neglect their financial obligations.
Murray stated, “The sharp rise in dodgy candy stores has been blighting high streets and ripping off the taxpayer. In government, Labour would replace business rates with a new system and use powers in the Economic Crime Act to crack down on rip-off businesses, ensuring proper checks are in place when companies are being established.