ACS chief executive James Lowman

Progress on plans to postpone the next re-evaluation of business rates has been welcomed by the Association of Convenience Store (ACS).

The Non-Domestic Rating (Lists) (No.2) Bill, if passed by Parliament, would postpone the date on which the next re-evaluation of business rates in England and Wales takes effect from 2022 to 2023.

MPs debated the Bill at Second Reading stage on Wednesday September 30 and it was progressed without the need for a vote. The Scottish Government has also committed to delay its 2022 revaluation until 2023.

ACS has previously welcomed interventions from the Government in ensuring that the burden of business rates is reduced during the pandemic. The 100% Retail Holiday for 2020/21 has been instrumental in relieving pressures on local shops and allowing retailers to focus time and resource on adapting to Covid-19.

The ACS Voice of Local Shops survey in August found that the policy was integral to enabling almost half (42%) of stores to continue trading throughout the pandemic.

During the debate, local government minister Luke Hall said: “This Bill forms a critical part of the package of reforms and support we’re introducing for business rates which will result in a property tax which better reflects coronavirus-related challenges in the commercial rental market, which provides support to those who need it most and is simple and easy for businesses to administer.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Business rates are one of the biggest financial and administrative burdens faced by retailers and due to the current crisis local shops are already under immense pressure and the full extent of the impact of COVID-19 is currently unknown.

“We welcome the progress of this Bill to postpone the revaluation as this will give local shops more time to recover from the impact of coronavirus, and provide retailers with much-needed certainty of tax liabilities in the coming months.

“Business rates remain one of the biggest financial burdens faced by retailers, so we urge the Government to recommit to three-yearly revaluations from 2023, continue looking at ways to improve the system to reduce that burden and better incentivise investment.”

In a submission earlier this month, ACS called for a series of measures to reduce the burden of rates, including:

  • · maintain the central administration and automatic allocation of business rates reliefs through national rateable value thresholds;
  • · incentivise investment by introducing a Business Growth Accelerator Relief, similar to the scheme in Scotland, allowing retailers to recoup the capital costs of investments;
  • · reduce the overall burden of business rates by resetting the business rates multipliers at a more sustainable level.