This week, world leaders including the Prime Minister, US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet in Cornwall to hold face-to-face meetings of the G7 (Group of Seven).
For those of you who do not know, the G7 is an organisation made up of the world's seven largest economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Throughout the year ministers and officials from the member countries hold meetings, form agreements and publish joint statements on global events.
As many of you may have seen, over the weekend the latest agreement was reached – chaired by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, our G7 partners agreed historic global tax reforms which will pave the way for multinationals (such as Facebook, Google and Amazon to rightly pay more towards our public services.
I have long believed the global tax system needs to be fit for the digital age. Our high streets have faced immense challenges over the last few years, and it is only right that they are put on a level playing field with digital rivals. The arrival of Covid-19 has accelerated immense change in our working and buying habits, so now is the right time to grasp this opportunity for reform and ensure our much-loved local businesses remain on our high streets.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Sevenoaks Bookshop to congratulate Fleur and her team for being crowned Independent Booker Seller of the year for the UK and Ireland at the British Book Awards. Fleur took over the store in 2015 and has not only maintained but enhanced the store’s reputation. The business ended 2020 with sales growth and even doubled the size of the shop – a tremendous achievement, in what has been incredibly challenging circumstances.
Sevenoaks Bookshop is just one such example of the fantastic shops we have locally. In Sevenoaks we are lucky, and immensely proud of our high street. We have so many high-quality retailers, with more on their way, and the new tax reforms will mean that even more businesses can hopefully succeed, enhancing the town’s reputation further and helping to attract more great retailers.
A level playing field is not only what is fair, but also what is right. This is just one step of many that are needed, and I will continue to ensure the Government supports our local high streets both now and in the future.