Forecourt Trader - 30 years at the heart of the fuel retailing community

David Charman - chairman CWA

The 2016 rates valuation is something the whole industry is worried about, but not, it seems, the hand car washers. Yet again so many of them will not be listed or if they are, no proper investigation will have taken place to ensure that they pay their correct rates. It's terribly frustrating as the CWA has provided much of the data necessary for the job to be done properly.

In the last round of rating dated 2010, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) claimed to have details of only 700 businesses retailing in the hand car-wash sector. They appear proud of the fact that this has now grown to 2,500 businesses. You may not be surprised to learn that some of the more well-known supermarket car park trolley washes all have an identical rateable value of £10,000. Why then are traditional brush-wash facilities on supermarket car parks (using the same size area) assigned an RV of at least £30,000? Everybody reading this will know that there are many more unregulated washes in England, maybe as many as 17,000 not paying rates, VAT, or corporation tax while heavily polluting our countryside.

Incredibly the VOA and presumably local authorities place these businesses in the "too difficult to calculate" category, where a lack of reliable information means that it's hard work for them to correctly rate these operations. In other words, it's better to not send a rates demand at all than to send the wrong demand. It was suggested to the VOA that, as no hand car wash had ever appealed their demand, they must all be well below what is actually correct. So why not send everyone a demand based on £30,000 RV and, if that's inaccurate, then let them appeal and be investigated properly to prove their correct RV. The VOA was less than keen.

Another matter that beggars belief is that if you are a large business (over £36m turnover) you now have to prepare a statement on how you don't enslave your workforce. But, as we often discover, many of the potential slavery cases exist in smaller businesses, off the radar, unregulated and ignored, a good example of this is unrated and unregulated hand car washes.

If we are to thrive fairly as an economy we must highlight these injustices and get a ratings agency that is fit for purpose. Get your act together government departments, these injustices have gone on long enough.

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 2 October 2017
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East120.5363.90127.17119.00
East Midlands120.03127.76118.80
London120.3757.90128.81118.85
North East119.80129.71118.46
North West120.19127.87118.63
Northern Ireland119.22125.23117.53
Scotland120.2463.80126.78118.50
South East120.7259.90129.39119.48
South West120.39128.00119.02
Wales120.0459.90126.47118.61
West Midlands120.0865.90128.12118.84
Yorkshire & Humber119.73127.02118.57

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