Ramsay MacDonald, retail director of Certas Energy, has voiced his concerns following the government’s business rate announcement this week.
Certas Energy is the largest supplier to independent fuel retailers in Britain, with more than 150 depots, nearly 1,000 tankers and 2,500 employees serving more than 1,200 retail outlets nationwide.
“It is a big concern for every petrol retailer,” he explained. “The only certainty from the recent announcement is that it has created even more uncertainty at a time when UK businesses are already anxious and looking to government for clarity and vision.
“What we ask from government is a level playing field. How can it be right that business rates for a petrol retailer are based on turnover when the convenience store down the road, and in direct competition with the forecourt for custom, is judged on square footage even though it may have a much higher turnover?
“The government already takes over 80p of every litre sold and pump prices are determined not on the forecourt but by fiscal policy and the global price of a barrel.”
MacDonald’s intervention came as a group of organisations representing over 100,000 businesses has written to all MPs expressing concern about the impact that changes to business rates will have on their members in April.
The letter highlights the issues that thousands of businesses are facing as a result of the revaluation, with many due to receive significant increases in their rates bills.
The group is calling for action in the following areas:
• Changing the system so that it incentivises business to invest instead of deterring them;
• Increasing the frequency of revaluations to deliver more accurate rates bills;
• Ensuring that businesses can receive a fair hearing when their rating assessments are incorrect;
• Reducing the overall burden on businesses through effective transitional relief and linking the multiplier to CPI before 2020.
The letter states: “The future of business rates is a key priority for us and we want to work with the Government to deliver meaningful reform. We want to see action from the Chancellor in the Budget to ease the burden on businesses that will see an increase in their rates bills but also a longer-term commitment from the Government to review property taxation in the UK.”
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “There are still fundamental problems with the rates system which we’ve seen come to light as business owners face their new bills from April.
“The current system discourages investment for many business types, as any improvement to that business results in an increase to their rates bill.
“We are encouraging the government to take action in this area ahead of the budget, as well as looking at the appropriateness of separate rating schemes for businesses like petrol forecourts which are seeing rates increases of up to 150%.”