THE Scottish Greens have proposed a windfall tax on business that are making huge profits from lockdown.

Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell brought up the issue at the Scottish Parliament, saying the move will protect the high street.

It comes after Sainsbury’s and Tesco both paid millions to shareholders in dividend payouts despite accepting state support in the form of business rates relief for the 2020-21 financial year.

At the start of the pandemic, the Chancellor announced a business rates holiday for retail, leisure and hospitality firms until March 2021.

New data compiled for the PA news agency by real estate adviser Altus Group projects the UK’s four largest grocers – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – and German rivals Aldi and Lidl will save around £1.87 billion as a result.

This is set to represent more than one sixth of the total £10.1 billion business rates bill which has been written off for all businesses during the year.

Meanwhile, Amazon's key UK business paid just 3% more tax last year when profits rose by more than a third as the online retailer benefited from the switch to home shopping.

At the Scottish Parliament’s Covid committee, Ruskell said a windfall tax will support a fair recovery for businesses.

He said: “This crisis is exposing how our economy favours big businesses over local firms and the supply chain. Tesco alone made half a billion pounds in the first half of this year, and Amazon is clearly booming.

“Our local high streets were already in trouble, but Covid restrictions are killing them off for good." 

Ruskell went on to talk about impact of Level 4 restrictions on businesses. 

The City of Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian are all moving into level 4 for on Friday.

READ MORE: Scotland levels update: Nicola Sturgeon confirms 11 areas will move to level 4

Under level 4 restrictions – which are expected to end on December 11 – all restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars must close, although takeaways can operate as normal.

Ruskell added: "Retailers in Tier 4 areas in particular will struggle during what is usually the most profitable tine of the year.

"A windfall tax could be a useful tool to ensure that there is more support for the businesses that are being crippled by this pandemic.”