The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has responded to figures on business rate reliefs released by the Department for Communities and Local Government, calling for an extension of the business rate discount for small businesses.

The figures show that local authorities granted £1,061m in relief under the Small Business Rate Relief scheme in 2014-15, up 7.7% on the previous year. Additionally, the amount of relief granted to empty premises fell 4.2% to £947m.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Business rates are one of the most significant costs that small businesses face, which is why small business rate relief is such an important and valuable policy. The small business rate relief scheme needs to be renewed in 2016 alongside further support to allow local authorities to offer more effective discretionary rate relief schemes.

“Supporting small businesses through business rates discounts is an essential part of encouraging investment in our sector, but it must be coupled with meaningful reform to a system that unfairly penalises many local shops – especially those operating on petrol forecourts. We expect the Chancellor to provide more detail on the Government’s plans to help small businesses in his Autumn Financial Statement next week.”