PRA joins in call for ATMs to be exempt from business rates

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents Britain’s 5,400 independent petrol filling stations, has joined the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) in calling for ATMs to be exempt from Business Rates.

Brian Madderson, chairman of the PRA, sees business rates exemption as a crucial matter. “The economics of running petrol forecourts are very fragile. That is why thousands have closed in the last few years with Experian Catalist confirming 900 independents had to withdraw from the sector in just five years from 2009 to 2013. A sensible concession by Local Authorities in relation to business rates on ATMs can help secure both the future of the forecourt and of local banking services.”

The PRA argues that petrol forecourts’ importance as community hubs, convenience stores, and the only location serving some rural or isolated areas with no bank branches – coupled with the arrival of a greater range of services on the more sophisticated new generation of ATMs – makes a strong case for the exemption. Features such as electronic image deposit of cheques; cash deposit and recycling; and internet banking (possibly including video connections with bank staff) could make ATMs a more acceptable substitutes for branches. For this to work in practice, the ATMIA says flexibility from Local Authority Planning Committees and the removal of Business Rates on ATMs are needed.

Ron Delnevo, European director of the ATM Industry Association, believes the business rate issue must be resolved: “There is no good in Local Authorities trying to cash in on attempts to replace the bank branches their local communities have lost. Sensible authorities, focused on the needs of their local residents for financial inclusion, will waive business rates to make the provision of new ATM-based banking services viable.”

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