The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on the government to clarify its position on business rates appeals, after it published its response to a consultation on business rate reforms.

In the consultation response, the Department for Communities and Local Government stated that the government “will not impose an arbitrary fixed percentage boundary” on whether valuations are within the bounds of reasonable professional judgement, and it will instead be for the VTE (Valuations Tribunal England) “to take a view, based on the available evidence, on whether they consider the valuation to be reasonable.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Under the cover of the Budget, the government has published a muddled business rate reform response in the hope that nobody notices. The language on rates appeals may have been marginally changed, but the problems still remain.

“Whether the term is ‘reasonable professional judgement’ or a view from the VTE on whether a valuation is reasonable, business may still be denied an accurate rating assessment. Businesses need absolute clarification from Government that if their rates bills are found to be too high, they will not end up overpaying.”

ACS wrote to the Communities Secretary along with other organisations in September last year, raising concerns that the planned changes to the appeals process would leave businesses out of pocket even when their appeals are successful.