State aid rules must not penalise the convenience sector, ACS says


The comments come in response to a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy consultation on establishing new rules around government subsidies. The consultation was launched following the end of the transition period for leaving the European Union on 31 December. The consultation looks at establishing new UK subsidy control rules, to replace existing EU-derived state aid law.

The main impacts of existing state aid rules are: requiring retailers to complete state aid declarations when receiving business rates relief or other financial support and preventing access to financial support when a €200,000 over three fiscal year limit is reached.

In its submission, ACS recommends that subsidies to convenience retailers should be designated as ‘low-risk’, reflecting that convenience retailers do not materially affect international trade, or export goods. This should allow reduced administrative requirements and the removal of limits on reliefs for convenience retailers who reach the threshold.

ACS chief executive, James Lowman, said: “Business rates relief is the main subsidy regime for the convenience sector and the existing state aid regime limits the benefits of business rates relief policies – particularly for multiple convenience retailers.

“Convenience stores play a positive role in the lives of their communities, providing local, secure and flexible jobs and a range of essential products and services for their customers and it is vital that new state aid rules do not penalise retailers. The introduction of a new subsidy control regime should actively contribute towards socially desirable outcomes across all regions of the UK.”



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