A SWINDON retailer is urging the government to change tax rules in order to support high streets across the UK.

WHSmith, which employs more than 500 staff in Swindon, is among 50 retailers in the UK to have written to Chancellor Sajid Javid asking for ‘fundamental’ reforms to fix the ‘broken business rates system’.

These rates are a tax paid on properties used for business purposes.

Chief executive of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson said the current system is threatening jobs and harming high streets.

She said: “The fact that over 50 retail CEOs have come together on this issue should send a powerful message to Government.

“Retail accounts for 5% of the economy yet pays 25% of all business rates – this disparity is damaging our high streets and harming the communities they support.”

Swindon suffered several store closures this year, including Argos at the Brunel Centre which closed last month.

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said the government should address this issue to help small businesses.

He said: “There is much more the government can do now to help small businesses, and their first priority should be extending rate relief for more businesses and for beyond the next financial year.”