UK
22/11/2013 02:01 GMT | Updated 22/11/2013 05:56 GMT

Kirstie Allsopp Urges Business Rates 'Rethink' To Help High Streets

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20:  Kirstie Allsopp attends the Chelsea Flower Show  press and VIP preview day at Royal Hospital Chelsea on May 20, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images)
Ben A. Pruchnie via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: Kirstie Allsopp attends the Chelsea Flower Show press and VIP preview day at Royal Hospital Chelsea on May 20, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images)

Kirstie Allsopp has called for a "rethink" to a controversial tax on shop units known as business rates in order to help local shops and protect the variety of Britain's high streets.

Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, the TV property expert said they should be reformed to "level out the playing field" between small shops and big retailers, who can better handle the tax, which is set to rake in £7 billion this year.

"It'd be great if there was an alternation to business rates and there was a bit more balance. There should be a rethink."

Business rates are due to go up by a further 3.2% in April, adding a further £240 million to retailers' operating costs. Allsopp's call to reform the tax comes after ex-Dragon Theo Paphitis branded them "no longer fit for purpose".

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Allsopp, who hosted the show "Location, Location, Location", made her intervention as she called on British shoppers to support their local shops ahead of 'Small Business Saturday' on 7 December.

"If you can support your local high street and keep it going, that can benefit you. It's also beneficial in terms of your community. It's in the same way that when people get involved in their local schools or golf clubs, they feel much more a part of things."

New research released by American Express and retail consultants Columino found that high streets filled with thriving local, independent businesses have added an extra £40,000 boost in nearby house prices over the last decade.

According to their report "High Streets Ahead", the rise in property values in these areas was 17% higher than the growth in similar areas with fewer independent traders.