The government is yet to commit to its manifesto pledges to reform business rates and increase rural rate relief from 50% to 100%.
The Conservative Party’s pledge to reform the rates system was not included in the legislative programme announced in the Queen’s Speech last week.
The other manifesto pledges to increase rural rate relief and for 100% retention of rates by councils had been previously set out in the Local Government Finance Bill, which was also omitted from the Queen’s Speech.
The government has since confirmed it would help local authorities “control more of the money they raise”, but has refused to commit to its other business rates pledges.
A Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) spokesman told C-Store: “The government is committed to delivering the manifesto pledge to help local authorities to control more of the money they raise and will work closely with local government to agree the best way to achieve this.” He said there was no further comment on business rates.
Richard Inglis, who owns three Welcome Co-op stores in Southampton, said the lack of commitment on rates was “really disappointing”.
“On one of my stores I’m paying too much, but it’s so difficult to appeal. There’s never anyone to talk to about it, it’s just lots of form filling, but it shouldn’t be complicated. I’m also paying rates on external ATMs at all my stores, and the rates bill goes up with usage. You find a way to make money and it’s taxed. It’s hard for us to get ahead.
“The government talks about helping small businesses, but they’re not helping.”
Association of Convenience Store chief executive James Lowman said: “Thousands of small shops were promised a proper review of the rates system in the Conservative manifesto, and so far we are yet to see anything on the subject.
“We are calling on the government to clarify their position and set out their proposals to make the rates system fairer for everyone as soon as possible.”