Petrol filling stations will be included in a business rates discount after intervention by the PRA.
In the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on December 5 he announced a £1,000 discount for small businesses with premises with a rateable value of under £50,000.
However, when PRA asked The Treasury and Department for Communities and Local Government about the discount, it was told it would not apply to petrol filling stations as it was only intended for high street retailers involving shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants.
The PRA responded with a series of briefings to MPs to gain political support as well as direct intervention with contacts at Department for Communities and Local Government and HM Treasury culminating in a meeting with the new Economic Secretary Nicky Morgan MP on 17th December.
PRA chairman Brian Madderson said the minister accepted PRA’s insistence that petrol retailers should be offered the discount and has now written to confirm this.
The main points of her letter are:
• The scheme only applies to eligible properties in England.
• EU state aid limits apply such that no single organisation can receive more than €200,000 of aid in a three-year period or €500,000 in the case of Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI). This is only likely to apply to the largest groups unless the business is split into separate companies.
• The discount does not appear to be proportional to the actual amount of rates paid.
• Further guidance will be issued in the New Year regarding implementation by local authorities.
Madderson said PRA would be contacting the finance ministers in the Scottish Government and Northern Ireland and Welsh Assemblies to ascertain whether they will follow the lead of Westminster.
He reported that a director from a well-known firm specialising in business rates told PRA: “I congratulate PRA on getting this concession from HM Treasury. The credit is entirely yours and my firm would have no issue endorsing this to our clients.
“I believe that if PRA had not approached HM Treasury they would not have given it (this discount) to petrol stations.”
Madderson said: “This should benefit both dealers and company owned sites in England to the tune of up to £4m for each of the next two financial years.
"I hope non-members will use some of this windfall gain to sign up for PRA membership, through our membership secretary Steve Coombe, who can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org"