"A potential lifeline for small independent petrol filling stations" is the way the PRA has described the concessionary rates relief scheme announced by the Chancellor in his 2016 Budget.
The PRA said small petrol filling stations (PFS) have been under intense pressure. A study it carried out with Experian Catalist found 165 small PFS had shut down in 2015. Since 2001 more than 4,200 independent PFS 62% of the total in the UK have closed.
PRA chairman Brian Madderson commented: "The Chancellor’s announcement was very positive news and a significant win for our lobbying to the Treasury on the issue of rates relief.
"We had written asking for significant improvements to be made and now, from April 2017, almost 70% of all independent PFS in England will benefit from the relief schemes."
The PRA works closely with ratings specialist MUA Property Services which identified 1,084 PFS that currently have a rateable value (RV) below £15,000.
It estimates that a 25% increase in their RVs in 2017 would still see more than 500 PFS below the new concessionary threshold.
Madderson added: "This means that more than 12% of the 4,345 independent PFS still operating in England would be exempt from paying any rates a massive cost saving to their businesses."
A further 570 independent PFS currently rated between £12,000 - £15,000 would be subject to the tapered relief scheme from 2017, but still see measureable savings.
There are almost 2,000 PFS with RVs between £15,000- £50,000 that will benefit from paying on the smaller uniform business rate (UBR), with a site at the top end saving £650 if the scheme came into force this year.
The decision to change the annual inflationary escalator for business rates from RPI to the lower CPI from 2020 was hailed as further good news for PFS operators.
PRA said it was continuing to work with the ATM ’alliance’ to campaign for through-the-wall cash machines removed from the rating list from April 2017 for small convenience shops.