Hundreds of cash machines to become business-rates exempt in Scotland

SGF data shows 72% of convenience stores offer cash machine services, with only 23% charging to use the service

Hundreds of cash machine sites are set to become exempt from additional business rates in Scotland, the government has confirmed.

The move has been prompted by a Supreme Court ruling in 2020 which abolished similar rates on ATMs in England and Wales.

While a timeframe has not yet been set, a Scottish government spokesperson said: “Assessors have been considering the valuation of ATM sites and recently concluded that in most retail premises it is likely that such sites will be deleted from the Valuation Roll. They are now commencing the process of identifying the ATM sites this will apply to.”

David Thomson, who sits on the Scottish Assessor’s Association’s executive committee, said each site was being assessed on a case-by-case basis, but that the “minimum prerequisite is that the host property is of a retail nature.”

“The expectation is that there will be hundreds of sites of ATMs which have been, are being, or are about to be, deleted across Scotland. The final ratio of those deleted will not be known until the review is completed,” he said.

Owner of a Premier in Blantyre, Mo Razzaq said he welcomed the move, but said it was “too little too late”.

He said: “We warned the Scottish government two years ago that many retailers would ditch their cash machines, as I have done, because additional rates meant they were too costly to run. This has now created cash desert in many parts of Scotland.”

Since 2015, 53% of bank branches have closed across the country. Tony Buckley, who runs Buckley’s News in Lossiemouth, is one of three cash machines left in his town after all the banks removed their services. He said: “This is good news. I appealed the rates decision on my ATM seven years ago, so it’s been a long time coming.”

Scottish Grocer’s Federation CEO Pete Cheema said: “There has been a steady decline in the number of ATMs across Scotland and once a service is withdrawn it can be very difficult to bring back. The proposed solution to remove cash machines from rates would be a step in the right direction and very welcome news for many convenience retailers and for their communities.

“Our data shows that 72% of convenience stores offer cash machine services, with only 23% charging to use the service. Removing some of the extra associated costs of keeping the machine may indeed slow the decline.”

The landmark judgement handed down by the Supreme Court in May 2020 meant that ATMs in England and Wales would no longer be viewed as separate property and additional business rates could not be applied to them. However, at the time Scotland did not follow suit.

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