THE founder of an independent lighting business has slammed the Chancellor’s idea for an online sales tax.

Rishi Sunak is considering a new tax for businesses selling goods on the internet in a bid to “save the high street” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Chancellor is looking at introducing a two per cent levy for products sold online, which could raise about £2 billion a year in taxes. There would also be a charge on deliveries.

Bryn Jones, founder of Cable and Cotton Ltd, used to have a boutique lighting shop in The Lanes, Brighton. Now Bryn only sells LED fairy lights online, and he says Mr Sunak’s plans “just do not make sense”.

He said: “You have this situation where the economy has been changing for a long, long time.

“Obviously coronavirus has really hit it hard but the high street has been going this way for a while.

“The way the Chancellor is talking about a supposed differentiation between online businesses and high street businesses is really dinosaur stuff.

“Every independent trader in The Lanes has a website. Having a shop these days is more like an advertising banner – I considered it within my marketing budget.

The Argus: Bryn JonesBryn Jones

“What the Chancellor is doing here really is taxing the end consumer, so it’s a tax on people.

“It just doesn’t seem to have been very well thought through.”

Bryn decided to close his shop in Meetinghouse Lane three years ago and move the business completely online and Cable and Cotton is now based in Portslade.

The 47-year-old said: “I had my shop for about eight years but had come to end of my lease. Like many businesses I didn’t want to sign up for another ten years.

“These leases are really onerous. Say I had wanted to shut the business down or sell the shop on to someone else, if they then went bust, it would all still be on me.

“I thought I would stick to online and build that up because of the terms you get on these shops and the way that landlords operate, which is all interlinked with this whole problem.”

Bryn believes that high rents on shop spaces are not justified any more. He said: “Landlords are living in the past really. They want to increase the rents and we’ve also got business rates to pay.

“Why would I choose to do that when online I can sell nationally and internationally?

“Although it’s lovely to have a shop and to have a relationship with customers, the shop was not making any money. I grew up here and I think it’s great to have independent traders in Brighton but so many just can’t afford it.

“You have these legacy landlords who are used to charging these rents but it does not add up now you have the internet.

"The high street is out of synch with the rest of the economy.

"Someone has to take a hit eventually and surely it has to be the rents on these shops.”

The Government announced earlier this year that it would conduct a review of the business rates system in England.

The Treasury is considering abolishing business rates and replacing them with a “capital values tax”, which would be based on the value of the land and buildings.

The tax would be paid by the owner of the land, rather than the tenant leasing it for their business.

Business rates are currently calculated every five years and are based on the value of shop rents, with business owners paying the tax.