ACS Calls for Government Focus on Rural Business Infrastructure

ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has responded to a consultation from the House of Lords Rural Economy Committee, seeking views about how Government policy could strengthen rural businesses and communities.

There are over 19,000 rural convenience stores in mainland UK, offering vital services to their local community such as free-to-use cash machines (44%), bill payment services (54%) and recycling services (40%).

The submission highlights the need for effective monitoring of LINK’s commitments to protect ATM coverage in rural areas and communication with retailers when bank branches close through the Access to Banking Standard.

Over the last year, rural convenience stores have invested £315 million in their businesses. In the submission, ACS calls for the business rates system to incentivise investment by allowing retailers to offset investment against their rates bills and expand rural rate relief for rural forecourts.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said, “Rural convenience stores are increasingly dynamic in meeting the changing needs of consumers. Convenience stores are valued by local communities, providing over 143,000 jobs and 57% are trading in isolated locations with no other retail or service businesses close by, meaning they are vital for the areas they serve.”

The submission also outlines support for investment in digital infrastructure as reliable broadband connections and mobile coverage have become essential for rural shops. Poor connectivity can act as a barrier to improving productivity as it can affect card payments, ATM transactions and post office services.

All figures are from the ACS Rural Economy Committee submission with reference to the 2018 Rural Shop Report.

The full submission is available here.

This entry was posted by Chloe on Thu, 13/09/2018 - 12:24