The ironies surrounding the government’s attempts to save the high street have reached new, farcical levels.

“Ministers are fine ones to talk about unintended consequences”

Ian Quinn, chief reporter

With retailers calling for a major shake-up of business rates, minutes from a meeting of the Future High Street Forum revealed ministers are worried a revamped taxation system - one that levels the playing field between physical stores and online - could have unintended consequences, and drive companies out of the UK. Ministers are also worried this would lead to - get this - “more likelihood of tax avoidance”!

The reason the Forum was formed was that retailers were going out of business in their droves - driven by huge tax burdens and competition from tax-avoiding online players.

Ministers don’t want to demonise digital - it’s here to stay and most retailers want in - but with the retail community willing to find workable alternatives, the DCLG appears completely dysfunctional. And in a further irony, two members of the Future High Street Forum have even been booted out of their offices as a direct result of the government’s interventions so far. Talk about unintended consequences!