cashpoint atm money

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The ACS warned overturning the decision could put customers’ access to cash at risk

Supermarkets and convenience stores face ripping out their ATMs after the Supreme Court delivered a blow that could cost the industry £500m, in a long-standing dispute over business rates on cash machines. 

On 29 May the Supreme Court agreed to allow the government’s Valuation Office Agency to contest the Court of Appeal’s decision, made in November 2018, to abolish additional business rates for ATMs built into the front of a shop or petrol station.

Sainsbury’s, Co-Operative Group, Tesco and ATM provider Cardtronics are among the companies who now risk their initial victory being overturned by the Supreme Court.

Property group Colliers International described the move as a kick in the teeth for retail, which could lead to stores ripping out their ATMs. John Webber, head of business rates, branded the development an enormous waste of taxpayers’ money.

Why are free cashpoints disappearing from high streets and stores?

“This could snatch away from hard-pressed retailers the much-needed refunds they have been waiting for in this period of economic uncertainty,” he said. “At the very least it will delay them receiving anything for another two to three years, and that’s only if they are successful.”

The Association of Convenience Stores warned overturning the decision could put customers’ access to cash at risk.

“Continued delays in the business rates case for ATMs will be of concern to retailers who are already having to make difficult decisions about whether they can continue providing the service to local customers,” said ACS chief executive James Lowman. “Free-to-use ATMs are already disappearing as a result of interchange fee cuts, depriving communities of their access to cash. We urge the government to change the policy for free-to-use ATMs, removing them from the rating list altogether.”

The business rate refunds which would be due to the supermarkets are in the region of £496m, according to Colliers International.

It could now take a further two to three years before the case is resolved.