A DISTRICT MP has welcomed an announcement by Tesco that it is to pay back millions of pounds saved in business rates relief.

Philip Davies – whose Shipley constituency includes Crossflatts, where the company has an Express store – was among a group of MPs who wrote to supermarket bosses calling on them to hand back the combined £1.9 billion of support they’d received, claiming it was “the right thing to do”.

Other supermarket companies have indicated they are following suit after Tesco’s announcement.

Mr Davies said: “The Chancellor was right to suspend business rates at the start of the pandemic, as we needed to do everything possible to support businesses.

“Given how quickly the scheme needed to be rolled out there was no time for exemptions or conditions, so supermarkets benefited in the same way our small shops did. The point of it was to help protect the high street and local businesses which desperately needed support, not provide extra money for businesses that were making large sums.

“Supermarkets remained open and did a fantastic job at keeping the country going and ensuring people had the essentials, but at the same time they were continuing to prosper where other shops were forced to close. It is right they pay the business rates they were expecting to pay and I commend Tesco for leading the way.”

Mr Davies said the money should be distributed to those businesses which have been excluded from Government support completely during the pandemic.

He added: “There are lots of businesses and people that need additional support and I want to see Government use that money to benefit them.”