The People’s Supermarket is appealing a council decision not to grant it tax relief after it was landed with a £78,000 bill.

The social enterprise scheme expected Camden Council to allow it tax relief under the Discretionary Rates Review Scheme, which is often given to not-for-profit organisations.

But Highbury Magistrates Court last week ordered the venture to pay arrears of £35,000 and business rates of £45,00 for the forthcoming year.

The organisation, which has one central London store, has agreed to pay back £600 a week as part of a weekly payment plan over the next two years.

“We are appealing against Camden Council’s decision not to grant us relief under the current scheme which does allow them to give us up to an 80 per cent reduction in our business rates,” said co-founder Kate Bull.

“My understanding is that because we have a declared aim to make a profit we’re less eligible for support and it’s counting against us to get funding.”

Plans to take on four local people as part of the supermarket’s apprentice and training programme will now be put on hold while the enterprise pays back the money.

Air conditioning units will not be installed and the purchase of eco-efficient fridges and an electric vehicle for collections have also been postponed as a result of the payback plan.

Bull added: “It’s a shame as one of the keys to our business is helping the community and we are going to have cut our apprentice and training programme, which would have given four more local people gainful employment and a recognised qualification.”

A Camden Council spokeswoman said the authority had provided the supermarket with a £25,000 grant to assist with the costs of starting up the project and it ‘valued’ the benefits the project has brought to members of the supermarket.

She said: “Following our original decision not to grant discretionary rate relief we have been in continuous contact to provide advice and assistance to the People’s Supermarket, agreeing a schedule of repayments that should see any outstanding business rates paid.

“If an appeal is lodged against out decision not to grant discretionary rate relief, the Council will consider it accordingly.”

Read more
‘Only difference at People’s chain is its staff not being paid’ (5 March 2011)
National roll-out mooted for People’s Supermarket (21 February 2011)