ACS calls for business rates reform in Budget submission

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The Association of Convenience Stores has urged the Chancellor to make the business rates system fairer for retailers, in its submission to the Treasury ahead of the Budget 2017.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said he wanted to see a rates system that incentivised investment and allowed stores to offset investments against their rates bills.

“We are also extremely concerned about the proposed changes to the appeals system,” he added. “Under the current proposals, ratepayers that are successful in a challenge to their rates bill may still not receive any refund. This is wrong, and we need to see a system that is fair for those challenging their rates.”

Other measures recommended in the submission include:

  • Extending the rateable value threshold for Rural Rate Relief to allow more petrol forecourt sites to qualify for support
  • Bring forward the change in the annual indexation of the business rates increase from RPI to CPI to 2018 instead of 2020, delivering an annual rates reduction of £370m
  • Review the turnover based model for calculating business rates for forecourts and ATMs, and review the appropriateness of the rates bills of internet distribution warehouses compared to their high street counterparts

The ACS has also called for more action to tackle the illicit trade in alcohol and tobacco which costs the Treasury over £3bn a year in lost revenue.

Lowman said: “The illicit trade is currently having a significant detrimental impact on responsible retailers and the communities they trade in. While the government has taken measures to improve the situation through the introduction of the alcohol wholesaler registration scheme, there is still more to be done.

“We believe that the solution on the ground is simple – retailers caught selling illicit alcohol should lose their licence.”

The Budget will be announced on Wednesday 8 March.

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