The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has urged the government to ensure councils are given full discretion over the business rates relief fund, and called for decisions over retailer eligibility to be made quickly. 

In the Budget, the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £300m discretionary fund to support the hardest hit businesses as a result of the 2017 revaluation. The government’s intention is to distribute the £300m fund over the course of the next four years, with each local authority receiving a minimum of £100,000 from the fund in 2017/18. 

ACS outlined the importance that decisions over retailer eligibility are made sooner than later to support those businesses facing the biggest increases. 

James Lowman, ACS chief executive, said: “The business rate revaluation has left thousands of small shops facing significant increases in their bills, with some having to find the money to pay for more than a 150% hike in their rates. We believe that local authorities are best placed to decide which businesses in their area are most in need of support, although these decisions should be made in consultation with local businesses and representative groups. 

“We urge the Government and local authorities to work quickly to effectively distribute the fund to businesses who have already received their higher rates bills after revaluation, when for many retailers, long delays in receiving relief will force them to make difficult decisions in their business.” 

Research conducted by ACS after the 2017 valuations were published revealed that around one in three convenience stores are facing an increase in their rates bills from April. 

ACS has produced guidance and template letters for retailers to help them make a case to their local authorities for relief, which is available here: