ACS welcomes call for greater support for rural shops

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed the publication of a new report from the Lords Rural Economy Select Committee which calls for more action to be taken to support rural shops.

The House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy’s Report raises a number of concerns about the way that rural shops and other businesses are disproportionately negatively affected when it comes to policy and provision of services.

Recommendations to the Government made in the report include:
The Government should develop a rural strategy to provide a strategic vision on challenges facing rural areas, such as digital connectivity and housing affordability
All legislation should be brought forward with an accompanying rural assessment statement
The Government should review the availability of ATMs in rural areas, particularly the sustainability of current costs for rural businesses hosting them
Banks should increase the interchange fees they pay for cash withdrawals through the post office network, which must be passed onto subpostmasters
The Government should review the impact of small business and rural rate relief provisions on local shops and rural pubs, noting that they may be providing essential services to the community beyond their primary commercial activity

In evidence submitted to the Committee and included in the Committee’s final report, ACS highlighted barriers facing rural shops such as unreliable connectivity (both mobile and broadband), inequality in the business rates system – especially for forecourt retailers, and the challenges of retaining free to use cash machines in rural areas.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said, “We welcome the Rural Economy Committee’s findings, which highlight the ways in which rural shops are left at a disadvantage compared to their urban and suburban counterparts.

'There are around 17,000 rural shops in the UK, providing essential services to customers and looking to invest to improve their offer, but they need more support from Government to trade on a level playing field.”