Chief Executive's Blog: Business Rates Revolution, or Changes at the Margins?

We heard about George Osborne’s promise to devolve business rates to local authorities while waiting to start our fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference, just yards from where the Chancellor was speaking. This looked like another Osborne bombshell, hot on the heels of his planned devolution of Sunday trading and announcement of a national living wage of over £9 by 2020.

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Less Than a Week to Go! Book for ACS Heart of the Community 2015

ACS’ unmissable political event, Heart of the Community 2015, will be taking place on the 13th October and offers you unrivalled access to key MPs and Ministers.

ACS’ Heart of the Community is the best opportunity for you to raise your concerns with Parliamentarians about key issues currently affecting the sector, including Sunday trading reform and the introduction of the National Living Wage, and the impact these policies will have on your store.

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ACS Welcomes Sentencing Council’s New Guidelines for Shop Theft Offences

ACS has welcomed the Sentencing Council’s new sentencing guidelines for shop theft which emphasise the emotional distress, property damage and the effect on the business when sanctioning offenders.

The guidelines, used by judges and magistrates to decide the appropriate sentence for a criminal offence, introduces a new approach to assessing the harm of shop theft to take into account the wider impact the crime has on its victims.

However, ACS raises concerns that the guidelines do not include a separate assessment for repeat offenders.

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ACS Warns of Potential Impact of Locally Set Business Rates

ACS has responded to the chancellor’s announcement on locally set business rates, raising concerns that rates could rise for local businesses. In his speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester today, the chancellor, George Osborne, has announced that he will “abolish” the current system of business rates and replace it with a system which allows local authorities to set business rates themselves.

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Carrier Bag Charge to Apply in Large Businesses from Today

From the 5th October all businesses with 250 or more employees will be required to charge 5p for each single-use carrier bag they provide their customers with in England.

Retailers who have less than 250 full time or equivalent employees across their business/es are not required to charge for carrier bags. Convenience retailers who are members of a symbol group or franchise model only need to count the employees in the businesses/stores that they own and run.

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ACS Concerned By Institute of Licensing Proposals On Licensing Conditions

In response to the Institute of Licensing consultation on template licensing conditions ACS has raised concerns that the proposal are unworkable.

ACS chief executive, James Lowman said: “Effective licencing conditions must be based on local evidence and tailored to each premise.  Template licensing condition, as proposed in the consultation, is likely to result in blanket condition that are not relevant to individual local shops – we urge the Institute of Licensing to reconsider publishing this guidance.”

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Minimum Wage Increases to £6.70 from Today

From today, 1st October 2015, the National Minimum Wage rate rises by 20p to £6.70 per hour for employees over the age of 21 – an above inflation increase of 3%.

Additionally, the hourly rate for 18-20 year old employees rises by 17p to £5.30 and for under 18s, the rate has increased by 8p to £3.87.

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New E-Cigarette and Tobacco Laws Come into Force Tomorrow

From 1st October, it will be illegal to sell e-cigarettes or e-liquids to children under the age of 18 and the proxy purchase of both tobacco and e-cigarette products will also be illegal.

Retailers will need to check that a person is over the age of 18 before selling them e-cigarettes or associated products, such as refill cartridges and batteries, or they could receive an on the spot fine of £50.

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Living Wage Introduction Will Lead to Job Losses, Delayed Investment and Business Closures

The Association of Convenience Stores has submitted new evidence to the Low Pay Commission, detailing the thousands of jobs that will be lost in the convenience sector as a result of the introduction of the National Living Wage in 2016.

ACS has estimated that in 2016, the introduction of the living wage at £7.20 per hour for workers over 25 will cost the sector in excess of £167m.

When asked about the impact of the Living Wage, retailers said that they would take the following steps to keep their business afloat:

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Investment Falls as Retailers Brace for Impact of 2015 Budget

Investment levels in the convenience sector have fallen by 35% over the last three months as retailers prepare for the introduction of the National Living Wage.

Over the last three months, convenience stores across the UK have invested £116m in their businesses compared to £177m in the previous quarter.

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