The Liberal Democrats are calling for business rate increases for English pubs to be capped.

The Lib Dems say the rate increase for English pubs should be limited to a maximin of 12.5 per cent, as it is in Scotland.

It comes as research by the party revealed thousands of pubs hit with crippling hikes to their business rates still haven’t received any funding from the government’s flagship pub relief scheme.

In the March budget, Chancellor Phillip Hammond said pubs hit with higher rates would receive a £1,000 annual discount.

Six months on, four in ten councils in England still haven’t even been able to start distributing the relief, with many blaming software problems, the absence of clear guidance from the government and lack of time to put local schemes in place.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable (pictured) said: “Thousands of pubs faced with crippling tax hikes are being left in the lurch by this government.

“This rushed scheme has been plagued with problems from the start. Local councils have had to deal with software glitches, a lack of clear guidance from ministers and little time to prepare.

“Pubs form the bedrock of local communities across the country, but many now worry they will have to close their doors.

“Instead of this temporary sticking plaster, we need to properly protect pubs by capping business rate rises at 12.5 per cent.

“in Government, Lib Dems fought to secure legislation to ensure protection of pubs from unfair behaviour by the big pubcos which supply their beer.  It would be unforgivable if the same pubs are now forced out of business by the government’s own incompetence.”

Data from Freedom of Information requests shows that 150 local authorities have started distributing funds, with a total of £6.7m paid out to more than 6,500 pubs.

However, 100 local authorities are still finalising schemes, leaving an estimated 4,500 pubs still waiting for relief. Of these, 41 per cent were waiting for software to be updated or tested, 21 per cent said they were awaiting final approval from their local council and 15 per cent were in the process of contacting local eligible pubs and 7 per cent blamed delays on a lack of clear guidance from the government.

  • CAMRA is calling for a for a permanent £5,000 business rate relief for all pubs in England as well as a freeze, or reduction in, beer duty for the rest of this Parliament.

CAMRA warns that without urgent action, thousands of community pubs in England could close as four in 10 pubs face a crippling rise in business rates.

CAMRA’s submission to the Government, prior to the Budget on 22 November, is available here

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