A rates expert has warned forecourt operators that scammers may approach them to try and take advantage of a new business rates relief scheme that is due to come into operation in April.

The Chancellor Phillip Hammond, in his 2018 Autumn Budget, announced a scheme that will reduce the rates payable by all retailers, including “petrol stations”, with a rateable value (RV) of less than £51,000, by a third from 1 April this year.

Ian Sloan of chartered surveyors Bankier Sloan warned forecourt operators that there should be no need for any third parties to become involved in trying to claim the relief.

He said retailers should not be required to make an application as local councils have been instructed by central government to give the relief automatically even if businesses have more than one outlet. There is no limit on the number of premises or forecourts in order to receive this relief, providing each has an RV of less than £51,000.

However, he cautioned that some councils may misunderstand the new rules and have failed to appreciate that petrol forecourts are eligible for the discount.

The new relief is to be calculated after the effects of any small business rates relief, so some small rural operators may benefit from both reliefs.

Sloan said: “The advice of the business rates department of your local council is free. Operators should not sign any contract with a third party asking them to claim on their behalf as this relief will come automatically.

“If you are approached, please take a note and contact details of the company that approaches you, and then contact your local business rates department.”