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ATM ruling set to head back to the courts

THE Supreme Court has agreed to allow the Government’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA) the right of appeal against last year’s defeat in a long-running dispute with major supermarkets over business rates and ATMs, confirms commercial property agent Prop-Search.

In November last year, the Court of Appeal ruled that ATMs located both inside and outside of stores should not be assessed for additional business rates on top of the normal store rates costs retailers are already facing. This decision overturned a verdict by the Upper Tribunal in January 2017 that made a distinction between ATMs inside a building and outside, and which had said that the sites of ATMs located within premises should not be assessed for business rates, but ‘through the wall’ external-facing ATMs should.

Samantha Jones, an Associate Director of Prop-Search, said: “The issue has made headlines once again following the Supreme Court ruling that the VOA can challenge the Court of Appeal judgement. This judgement had been made in favour of ratepayers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the Co-op, and said that the majority of such sites were not rateable.

“The ruling was unsurprisingly welcomed by affected retailers, which stood to recover around £300m in business rates that had been paid on such ATM sites. And at the time the Court of Appeal actually said the VOA shouldn’t be allowed to challenge its decision, yet here we are – the legal juggernaut trundles on to the next appeal stage with the threat of retailers removing ATMs from their premises.

“Continued delays in the business rates case for ATMs will be of concern to retailers who have to make difficult decisions about whether they can continue providing the service to local customers. Free to use ATMs are already disappearing as a result of interchange fee cuts, depriving communities of their access to cash.”

Figures from the 2018 Local Shop Report show that 46 per cent of convenience stores currently offer a free to use cash machine, with 16 per cent offering a charged cash machine. It also reported that for young people aged 18 to 24 in rural areas, access to a cash machine was the most valuable service available in their local shop, enforcing the importance and continued relevance of cash as a method of payment both in stores and in the wider community.

The original court case in this regard stems back 2013 when the VOA won a case which ruled that separate business rates should be charged on cash machines that had not previously impacted a store’s business rates bill.

Further information or advice can be obtained from Prop-Search call 01933 223300 or 01604 492000 or the website www.prop-search.com

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