A GROUP of Conservative MPs has urged Rishi Sunak to create a fair environment on the high street in his upcoming Budget.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is set to announce his Budget later this month which will outline the state of the economy and any proposals to change taxation.

The Northern Research Group, consisting of 50 Conservative MPs have urged the chancellor to cut business rates in the Budget making the high street a "fairer" place for traders to operate.

MPs have made the appeal in response to an increasing number of empty shops on the high street. They say that failing to support brick and mortar retailers in the recovery from Covid-19 could mean losing seats in the North.

Carlisle MP John Stevenson and Workington MP Mark Jenkinson are members of the Tory pressure group.

A separate backbench pressure group, the Blue Collar Conservatives has joined the call.

Business rates are a charge for most non-domestic properties and are calculated based on size but many believe they unfairly impact brick and mortar shopkeepers who are competing with online retailers.

Mr Stevenson said: "What we're saying is, we realise business rates raise a lot of money for the exchequer but it could be altered in a way that's beneficial, particularly to small businesses which in many respects are the lifeblood of the high street.

He acknowledged that the Chancellor has difficult choices to make in the current climate.

"We recognise that there can't be an overall tax cut because of the financial situation we're in. What we're proposing is the threshold before you start paying rates is raised so a lot of smaller businesses would be exempt from paying business rates.

"To pay for that, what we're suggesting is an online tax, that the Amazons of the world would pay."

Mr Stevenson said: "Carlisle City Centre is actually doing better than many people realise but if we have a rates cut at the lower end it does encourage businesses to come to the high street."

Mr Sunak has also received a letter calling for a cut to business rates from an alliance of 21 retail heavyweights including Gary Grant, founder of The Entertainer and Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland.