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Business rates for click-and-collect lockers may be too low

The number of click-and-collect lockers increased by 1,227% in 2014 but the average click-and-collect locker location pays just £957 in business rates, according to new research.

The boom in electronic lockers has been fuelled by the growth of click-and-collect over the last year, with companies such as Amazon increasing its portfolio from 18 in 2011 to 224 in 2014, installing 221 in the last year alone.

Paul Turner-Mitchell, a former retailer who campaigns for business rates reform, said that local authorities and the Treasury will share £234,000 in additional business rates from these lockers this year.

Under the current rating system, it is the actual site that is assessed rather than the structure that houses the lockers. The banks of lockers are seen as non-rateable chattels as they are not a listed item within the plant and machinery regulations.

Turner-Mitchell said: “Given the absence of a market for the lockers in 2008 and therefore the lack of rental evidence, the rateable values used are far too low based on today’s market.

“But, for rating, we have to ignore economic change post-2008. It will be that these sites will see significant increases in 2017 if the 2015 rents being paid demonstrate this.”

He said: “Reform must provide retail with a proactive form of property tax. The current system is just too slow to respond to market and economic conditions.”

In the last Autumn Statement, the government committed to a structural review of business rates before next year’s budget.

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