The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed proposals from the Department of Communities and Local Government which aim to make the appeals system for business rates more efficient.

The consultation was launched this week by High Streets Minister Marcus Jones, who claims that the plans will ensure businesses can be confident that their valuations are fair while attempting to curb the number of speculative appeals going through the system.

Under the proposed reforms, businesses would go through a three-stage process:

• Check: ensuring the relevant facts are up to date and accurate, with any agreed errors quickly corrected

• Challenge: allowing the business to challenge the rateable value on which their business rates bill is based, giving them the opportunity to set out their grounds for challenging and to put forward supporting evidence – we expect the great majority of cases to be resolved by this point

• Appeal: offering the opportunity to appeal to an independent valuation tribunal

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the Government’s intention to simplify the process for business rates appeals, but have concerns about the proposals to introduce fees for appeals, especially if they were to be linked to rateable values.

“Business rates remain one of the most significant costs for convenience stores and are in need of proper reform. Measures outlined by the Chancellor to allow local authorities to set and keep business rates income are extremely concerning and could result in rates bills being hiked by authorities looking to fund other projects.

“We are calling on the Chancellor to address the issue of fundamental business rate reform in his Autumn Financial Statement and introduce measures that will help small businesses instead of placing further burdens on them.”