ACS Calls for Urgent Reform of Business Rates ahead of 2017 Budget

ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has called on the Government to implement a series of measures on business rates, employment costs and duty rates to help local shops and other small businesses.

In its submission ahead of the Chancellor’s first Autumn Budget on 22nd November, ACS has reiterated its calls for an overhaul of the business rates system, with urgent attention required to allow businesses to appeal their rates.

The submission calls for:

  • A review of the business rates system that incentivises investment and to change annual indexation of business rates from RPI to CPI at the earliest opportunity
  • The removal of free to use cash machines from the rating system and review the methodologies for premises not based on rental value such as petrol forecourts
  • Urgent development of the online check, challenge, appeal portal to enable businesses to challenge their rates bills

The current online portal for check, challenge, appeal is not working as intended, with businesses unable to navigate through a system which is ‘full of glitches’ and ‘frequently crashes’. 

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The appeals system is flawed and the Government must act urgently to remedy the situation. Businesses must not be left without a viable means of lodging an appeal to their rates bills.”

On employment costs, ACS has raised concerns about the way that wage rates are set, calling for the Low Pay Commission to be given full independence from political pressure to make recommendations on the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage that take into account the impact on businesses.

The submission also calls for a freeze on duty rates for alcohol, tobacco and fuel. On alcohol and tobacco, ACS has called on the Government to instead focus on closing the revenue gap by focusing on stronger enforcement action at a local level and more powers for trading standards officers.  

Mr Lowman said: “Increasing duty rates on alcohol and tobacco drives consumers toward the illicit trade and away from legitimate retailers, which is why we are calling for a freeze. As the Budget is now in autumn, any changes to duty rates would come into force in the run up to Christmas causing significant disruption in stores. If duty rates are set to change, we are calling for the Government to delay that change to at least January 1st to minimise disruption.”

The Government is also currently considering forcing large fuel retailers to introduce electric vehicle charging points. ACS has cautioned against this in its’ Budget submission, instead urging the Government to set up a cross party working group to look at the most practical locations for a national network of charging points.

Mr Lowman continued: “Not all petrol forecourts can accommodate electric vehicle charging points. We support the rollout of electric charging infrastructure on forecourts and elsewhere, but retailers should not be compelled to include them if they aren't right for their site."

The full submission can be downloaded here: 

This entry was posted by Chris on Fri, 22/09/2017 - 16:06