Autumn Statement: Chancellor Takes Action to Support Rural Shops

ACS has welcomed positive action by the Chancellor to ensure rural shops benefit from 100% business rates relief, but also raised concerns that retailers will struggle to absorb the 4% increase in National Living Wage to £7.50.

On business rate relief and infrastructure investment, ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "We welcome the introduction of 100% rural rate relief for small businesses operating in isolated areas and reduction in transitional rate relief caps. Over a third of stores in the convenience sector operate in rural areas, playing an essential role in their communities. However, we urge government to ensure that their plans to develop infrastructure in the UK include rural areas that have often been left with substandard broadband and mobile coverage."

On the announcement to increase the National Living Wage to £7.50, Mr Lowman said: "Convenience store retailers are already cutting back as a result of the introduction of the National Living Wage at £7.20. Today's announcement of a £7.50 National Living Wage rate in 2017 will result in further staff hours being cut, investment plans being delayed or cancelled altogether and retailers having to take on more hours in the business to make ends meet."

The Chancellor did not take any action to address the controversial 'check, challenge, appeal' plans that could see businesses that make successful appeals to their rates bills still overpaying. Mr Lowman said: "We are disappointed at the Chancellor's refusal to acknowledge the unfair business rates appeals system in the Autumn Statement. At a time when business rates are increasing for many, ensuring that the appeals process does not leave retailers and other small businesses out of pocket is crucial. The current plans will see many businesses overpaying on their rates even if their appeals are successful. The Chancellor must take immediate action to address this issue."

The full Autumn Statement document is available here.

This entry was posted by Leah on Wed, 23/11/2016 - 14:11