Nearly a third of high street stores in the UK could close by 2020 if business rates are not cut.

The British Retail Consortium is seeking a reduction in rates in the upcoming budget, saying the tax is “making it impossible for retailers to keep shops going”.

The trade body says that combined with the new living wage in April, retailers face a massive £14bn increase in costs during the next four years.

At the end of last year, business rates expert Paul Turner-Mitchell said because chancellor George Osborne did not extend relief beyond its current timeframe in the Autumn Statement, rates will rise from an average of £7,567 to £9,140.

Councils expect to accrue a record-breaking £23.5bn in rates in 2016/17.