In what could be the end of a conflict that has lasted for five years, the U.K.’s Court of Appeal ruled on Friday (November 9) that automated teller machines (ATMs) should not be separately assessed when it comes to business rates. Refunds in the hundreds of millions might be in store for retailers with the ruling, the Financial Times reported.
At the same time, the court turned down the leave to appeal to the Supreme Court for the Valuation Office Agency that brought forward the case. Still, the U.K. government agency could seek a leave to appeal through a Supreme Court Petition. But, for now, Gerald Eve Head of Business Rates Jerry Schurder believes that the ruling was “a victory for common sense.” Schurder told the FT, “ATMs are part of the retail offer of the stores they are situated in and the VOA should never have treated them as separate businesses. The VOA must now drop its crusade to seek out more things to assess for business rates.”
In 2013, the government came to the understanding that “holes in the wall” ATMs that are externally facing should, for business rate purposes, be seen as separate premises. At the time, owners had bills sent to them backdated to when business rates were last revaluated. (That was 2010, at the time.) Then, in 2017, Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) upheld the decision but didn’t bring business rates to machines that could only be reached from inside of stores.
The news, however, comes as more people in Britain are, for the first time, paying with debit cards over cash. Consumers used their debit cards 13.2 billion times last year, an increase of 14 percent compared to the year prior per The Guardian. And a report by a trade body for the U.K. banking and financial services sector, UK Finance, found that the number of cash transactions fell by 15 percent to 13.1 billion transactions during the same period. Even so, cash is the second most popular payment method as it accounts for just more than a third — or 34 percent — of all payments. In addition, around 2.2 million customers mainly used cash for their daily shopping last year, but nine out of 10 of them did have a debit card.