Supermarket chains should be given a more prominent role in regenerating poor communities, an influential think tank has claimed.

Demos, an independent body that had close links with the New Labour government of Tony Blair, said retailers such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco played a key role in bringing new people to deprived areas and boosting local morale.

All three major political parties have voiced concerns over unfettered supermarket expansion crowding out local retailers.

But the Civic Streets report called on the government to give greater support to supermarkets as a means of delivering economic and social change.

“The sense of dissatisfaction that can spring from being presented with strong, aspirational brands to which one does not have any hope of access is very real and can be incredibly damaging to individuals’ wellbeing, ” said the report.

It called for supermarkets to be given tax-breaks through a cut in business rates to encourage them to open sites in troubled communities.

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