The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on the Government to do more to reform the business rates system in a submission to the Treasury ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on November 23.
In the submission, ACS calls on the Chancellor to introduce measures that would allow businesses to offset investment against their rates bills, instead of the current system where attempts to improve a business result in the rates bills increasing.
ACS has also called for businesses with a rateable value of under £50,000 to be exempt from the proposed business rates Infrastructure Levy.
Earlier this month, the Government published the results of the delayed rates revaluation, revealing details of the rateable values and business rates multipliers that will apply to convenience stores and other businesses from April 2017. Businesses in London were the hardest hit by the revaluation, with rateable values increasing for retailers by an average of 26.8% in the region.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Many businesses will see their rates bill fall slightly as a result of the recent revaluation, but there are still thousands that will see their bills increase. The business rates system remains unbalanced, unfairly targeting businesses like forecourts that have high turnover but relatively low profit margins. We need to see a rates system that not only incentivises investment, but also looks at ways to ensure that all businesses, such as internet distribution warehouses, pay their fair share.”
The following measures have also been called for in the submission:
• ensuring that the Low Pay Commission is able to set wage rates based on objective economic analysis rather than political targets;
• reintroduction of central funding for statutory sick pay to help businesses with employment costs;
• a delay in the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy to ensure businesses are able to prepare properly; and
• a freeze in duty rates for alcohol and tobacco to curb any further increases in the impact of the illicit trade on responsible retailers.
Lowman added: “Convenience stores are facing a significant increase in their employment costs, through the continuing impact of the National Living Wage and the introduction of auto-enrolment pensions, leading to many delaying investment plans and reducing the number of staff hours in their stores.
“The chancellor needs to take action to ensure that these businesses are still able to trade and invest in their stores to remain competitive, and an independent Low Pay Commission is essential in ensuring that businesses do not get caught up in a political point scoring battle over the rate of the National Living Wage in future.”