The Association of Convenience Stores has urged councils not to penalise convenience outlets when seeking to raise revenue for infrastructure projects through business rates.
The Local Government Finance Bill includes provision for individual councils, and combined local authorities with elected mayors to impose levies on ratepayers to raise money for infrastructure. It also allows councils to retain all their rates revenue.
James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, giving evidence as part of a Public Bill Committee hearing, pointed out most c-store customers came from within a quarter of a mile of the stores they visited so the potential positive impact of large-scale infrastructure projects on stores with “very local” customers was questionable.
“We support the principle of local authorities having more tools to support businesses through the business rates system. However, we want to make sure that they’re being used effectively to promote investment and sustainability and that the convenience sector is not neglected in favour of other, more lucrative, types of business,” he said.
Lowman said local authorities’ retention of all their rates revenue should be delivered in a way that promoted growth in all types of businesses.
The trade group continues to call on ministers by going further with rural rate relieves and to review the appropriateness of separate rating systems for petrol forecourts and ATM machines.
The ACS has previously called on ministers to ensure that small firms with a rateable value of less than £50,000 will be exempt from infrastructure levies.