A decision to bring forward changes to the business rates system, announced in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, has been welcomed by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The Chancellor said he was bringing forward more frequent business rates revaluations to 2021, with revaluations every three years thereafter and confirmed that the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) will continue to value premises instead of self-assessment.

The Chancellor had previously announced that business rates revaluations would become more frequent in his 2017 Autumn Budget, but this was scheduled to take place from 2022.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Business rates are one of the biggest fixed costs for thousands of convenience retailers in the UK, many of which have seen significant increases in their rates bills as a result of the delayed last revaluation. We welcome the Chancellor’s plans to bring forward more frequent revaluations to 2021 and VOA-led assessment.

“We will continue to call on government to change the way that the business rates system deals with investment in stores. We need a business rates system that incentivises investment instead of discouraging it through higher rates bills.”

One of the new consultations launched in the Spring Statement will look at the future of cash and digital payments. The Government have reaffirmed that the Payment Systems Regulator will hold LINK to account on its commitment to ensure the public continues to have adequate access to cash, following the cut to ATM interchange fees that convenience store rely on.

Lowman said: “We welcome the Government’s focus on cash as a means of payment, especially for more vulnerable consumers. 75% of transactions in convenience stores are being made with cash, so ensuring that customers have access to cash is extremely important. This consultation is especially timely given LINK’s recent announcement to cut the interchange fee paid to ATM operators, threatening the ATM network and inevitably reducing the availability of cash to consumers.”

During the Spring Statement, the Chancellor also announced a new call for evidence on addressing the problem of single-use plastic waste. The call for evidence “will explore how changes to the tax system or charges could be used to reduce the amount of single-use plastics we waste by reducing unnecessary production, increasing reuse, and improving recycling.” The government would also like to explore how they can drive innovation in this area to achieve the same outcomes.

Lowman commented: “We welcome the opportunity to respond to this call for evidence on single use plastics which is an important issue for our members. We will continue to work with DEFRA and other government departments on ways that the convenience sector can play a part in the reduction of single use plastics, and will respond to the consultation.”