House of Lords Committee Calls for More Support for Rural Shops

ACS has welcomed the publication of a new report from the Lords Rural Economy Select Committee which calls for more action to be taken to support rural shops.

The House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy’s Report raises a number of concerns about the way that rural shops and other businesses are disproportionately negatively affected when it comes to policy and provision of services. Recommendations to the Government made in the report include:

  • The Government should develop a rural strategy to provide a strategic vision on challenges facing rural areas, such as digital connectivity and housing affordability
  • All legislation should be brought forward with an accompanying rural assessment statement
  • The Government should review the availability of ATMs in rural areas, particularly the sustainability of current costs for rural businesses hosting them
  • Banks should increase the interchange fees they pay for cash withdrawals through the post office network, which must be passed onto subpostmasters
  • The Government should review the impact of small business and rural rate relief provisions on local shops and rural pubs, noting that they may be providing essential services to the community beyond their primary commercial activity

In evidence submitted to the Committee and included in the Committee’s final report, ACS highlighted barriers facing rural shops such as unreliable connectivity (both mobile and broadband), inequality in the business rates system – especially for forecourt retailers, and the challenges of retaining free to use cash machines in rural areas.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the Rural Economy Committee’s findings, which highlight the ways in which rural shops are left at a disadvantage compared to their urban and suburban counterparts. There are around 17,000 rural shops in the UK, providing essential services to customers and looking to invest to improve their offer, but they need more support from Government to trade on a level playing field.”


ACS evidence is cited in the following sections of the Rural Economy Committee Report:

Page 83, section 282: “The Association of Convenience Stores cited the results of its Voice of Local Shops Survey in February 2018 which found that “31 per cent of convenience retailers still find that poor mobile phone coverage is making it difficult or causing delays to completing tasks in the business, disproportionately impacting retailers in rural locations.”

Page 130, section 502: “The Association of Convenience Stores expressed concern about the calculation of rateable value for convenience stores attached to rural petrol forecourts. Convenience stores operating on a forecourt face a rateable value calculation are based on turnover. This compares to other convenience stores whose rateable value is calculated on the size of the premises, in the same way as other business premises. The Association told us that this made rateable values significantly higher for convenience stores attached to petrol forecourts compared to other stores.”

Page 134, section 518: “Bank closures have also meant the loss of ATMs in rural areas. In some cases, rural shops have filled this gap with 44 per cent of rural shops providing a free to use cash machine. However the Association of Convenience Stores explained to us that reductions to interchange fees (from 25 cents to 23.75 cents in July 2018 and to 22.5 cents on 1 January 2019), servicing costs, cash replenishment, business rates and other expenses around maintaining a cash machine, undermine their commercial viability.”

This entry was posted by Chris on Sat, 27/04/2019 - 01:08