The issue has raised the hackles of business groups, including the Association of Convenience Stores, who have rallied together, calling on the government for business rates reform. Eleven business organisations have signed a letter which highlights the issues that thousands of businesses are facing as a result of the revaluation, with many due to receive significant increases in their rates bills (see our website for full story).
Everyone accepts they have to pay tax. But like any tax, it needs to be fair and accurately calculated with a means to appeal if neither of those criteria have been honoured. Even before this rumpus, petrol retailers had considerable gripes over the way their business rates were structured. Ramsay MacDonald, retail director of Certas Energy, says the only certainty from the recent announcement is that it has created even more uncertainty. "It is a big concern for every petrol retailer. What we ask from government is a level playing field. How can it be right that business rates for a petrol retailer are based upon turnover when the c-store down the road, and in direct competition with the forecourt for customers, is judged on square footage even though it may have a much higher turnover? The government already takes over 80p of every litre sold and pump prices are determined not on the forecourt but by fiscal policy and global price of a barrel."
Elsewhere there's further frustration as the demonisation of diesel gathers pace at an alarming rate (see Brian Madderson's column page 7). Seems like trade organisations will be earning their membership fees this year!