As Convenience Store steps up its roadworks compensation campaign, central and local government have remained hazy as to who can offer help to businesses losing out on trade.
Many stores struggling with minimal footfall during roadworks schemes have reported a lack of support from their councils. Local authorities have told stores there is no compensation available due to central government guidelines.
But a Department for Transport spokesman said the issue was in fact a ‘matter for individual councils’ and not for central government, leaving affected retailers with nowhere to turn for help.
C-Store and sister title The Publican’s Morning Advertiser are calling on MPs who represent local businesses affected by roadworks to submit an Early Day Motion, allowing the issue to be debated in the House of Commons.
There are currently measures in place to get compensation - a store owner can appeal to the Valuation Agency to change their assessment and reduce their rent or rateable value if their business is severely affected. But the process is arduous and flawed, said Jerry Schurder, head of business rates at property consultants Gerald Eve.
“Recent statistics find somewhere between one and a half and two years,” Schurder said.
There are provisions for fast-tracking, but they’re unreliable, he added. “Someone digging up the road for a month could cause a real loss of trade, and you don’t get any results through the rating system because that’s thought to be too transient,” he added.
Local authorities do currently have discretionary powers to reduce business rates, for which central government funds 50%. “But local authorities are strapped for cash, so they aren’t using powers given to them,” Schurder explained.
“This is the possible solution to the problem - for government to say if you have short-term disturbance which is affecting your business materially, then we will recommend the council should grant relief, and central government will refund that cost.”