Devon village could lose its only shop as owners 'devastated' by rates increase

Woods Village Shop could be forced to close Credit: Google maps

A Devon village could lose its only shop after being told it needs to pay nearly £18,000 a year in local business rates.

Jeremy Woods and his wife Alison have run Woods Village Shop in Colaton Raleigh, near Sidmouth, for the past 15 years.

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, it supplied the local community with free delivery and a 24-hour service for medicines.

Since then it has seen its profits decline and a loss of staff now means it can only open between 6.30am to 2pm. Energy costs mean they have also stopped serving hot food since last summer.

Previously Woods Village Shop has benefitted from a 100 per cent rate relief, but has not had its business rates reviewed since 2019. This means from 1 April, its rates will rise to £17,750.

Jeremy said: "Our local business rate is increasing to a level never seen. I fear this will be the final nail in the coffin of our village shop.

"We have benefited from rate relief as our rateable value was under the £12,000 limit, at just £7,100 under the rural allowance.

"We have just been informed that our new rateable valuation is £17,750. We are devastated.

"We live above the shop and if the shop closes we will also lose our family home. It's ridiculous because we are like the hub of the village.

"It's not just us. They have hiked up rates at nearly every convenience store. It's madness. However, two local shops in the villages next to us, their rates have not gone up at all. I don't know why.

"Clinton Devon Estate is our landlord and we have a reasonable rent which allows us to keep the business afloat. The place was derelict when we took it on and we have spent over £80,000 on the premises over the past 15 years.

"We didn't see this coming at all. Personally, I think someone has messed up. Causing unnecessary worry to people in these difficult times is just not on."

The rates are calculated by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) which gives the government the valuations and property advice needed to support taxation and benefits. It says property’s new rateable value will reflect changes in rental values between 2015 to 2021.

A VOA spokesperson said it was unable to comment on individual cases, but said: "A property’s new rateable value will reflect changes in rental values between 2015 to 2021.

"Valuations depend on a wide range of factors, including a property’s location and its physical attributes, such as size and layout.

"We encourage all ratepayers to check their valuations and let us know if any information we hold about their property is incorrect."

The rateable value of the property - not what is paid in business rates or rent - is used by local councils to calculate business rates.

Simon Jupp, MP for East Devon, said: “I am in close contact with Jeremy Woods from Woods Village Shop and have raised his case with the Valuation Office Agency as a matter of urgency.

"The new rateable value for Jeremy’s shop looks completely out of kilter with previous years.

"I’ve asked the Valuation Office Agency for a full explanation and breakdown behind the dramatic rise.

"Woods Village Shop is a real asset for the local community and as the Member of Parliament, I will do all I can to help get this worrying situation resolved.”