Petrol stations would be among 800,000 premises to see a rise in business rates if revaluations stick to the 2015 date, a government Minister has claimed in a Westminster Hall debate this week.
Brandon Lewis MP, Minister for the Department for Communities and Local Government, which has proposed to delay rates revaluations by two years, said the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) estimates that about 800,000 premises would have seen an increase and about 300,000 a decrease, with petrol stations being among the businesses that “would have been most affected by hikes”.
“The estimates have been prepared by the Valuation Office Agency and are based on professional judgments informed by limited rental market evidence up to January 2012,” said Lewis during the debate on Tuesday (October 30). “They suggest that many smaller and medium-sized firms would have seen rate increases in 2015. We are talking about the retail sector, petrol stations, hotels and pubs.”
Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers’ Association said he was “puzzled and dismayed” by the suggestion that petrol filling stations (PFS) would benefit from the two-year deferral.
At the 2010 revaluation, the average rateable values (RV) for all commercial properties increased by 18% but the average for petrol stations – after negotiated adjustments following the PRA’s challenge to the VOA methodology – was 60%. Small, rural forecourts were particularly badly hit as many had their RV lifted above ‘relief thresholds’ and so actual cash increases were several hundred per cent for many sites.
In a letter to be sent to Brandon Lewis today, Madderson has pointed out that the 2010 revaluation prompted the PRA, together with ratings specialists Barber Wadlow, to research the position of the smaller PFS, which revealed that for around 500 properties, the owner would be financially advantaged by closing the forecourt and just retaining the convenience shop.
“With real concern expressed by so many bodies about the inexorable growth of rural fuel deserts, it is complete tax madness to place these small, mainly family businesses under further financial stress by deferring the 2015 revaluation to 2017,” Madderson said.
“Volumes on independent PFS are estimated to be between 5 and 20% lower today than in April 2008 and continuing to be squeezed by aggressive pricing and the weak economy. All had been looking to the 2015 revaluation to provide some much-needed respite on overhead costs from a reduction to their rating bills.
“Therefore I was extremely concerned by the proposal to defer the Revaluation by 2 years and would ask that industry is fully consulted before any final decision is made.”
Madderson has also requested the source and justification for the Minister’s claim that petrol stations would be among the premises most affected by hikes should the revaluation be in 2015.