Most retailers would prefer to stick with the property based system of business rates, rather than change to a fundamentally new basis of taxation, the Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman told The Grocer.
He was speaking after the ACS published its official response to the government’s business rates review.
“My sense is that I think most business groups are looking at how can make a property based system work better rather than have a completely different type of system,” said Lowman, although he added: “That said we are calling for some fairly fundamental changes to the current system.”
The stance puts the small shops group on a potential collision course with the BRC, which has called for the government to axe business rates altogether in favour of a new system not tied to property on the high street.
Instead, the ACS today called on The Treasury to change the revaluation period for business rates from every five years to three, to ensure that rates bills closely reflect changes in the property market and the wider economy.
It also urged the chancellor George Osborne to remove more businesses from the rating list altogether by exempting the smallest properties, as well as scrapping red tape which hits businesses with hikes in rates for making improvements to properties.
The ACS also called on the government to remove free to use cash machines from the rating list in recognition of their importance in giving consumers access to money and encouraging spending on the high street.
The government says it plans to come up with proposals to change the rates system by the budget of 2016.
“I’m confident that the government will want to do whatever it can to encourage investment and jobs,” said Lowman. “We need to make sure that we do all we can to stop rates being a disincentive to businesses.”