MPs from across the political spectrum called for meaningful reform of business rates at a Parliamentary debate on the future of Britain’s pubs.
The debate, which was secured by St Albans MP Anne Main, saw MPs sharing examples of pubs across the UK that have been lost or are under threat due to sky-high business rates.
The business rate relief announced by the Chancellor in his October budget provides a third off business rates for businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or below, however this reduction has not helped the majority of pubs in St Albans, who have seen an increase in their business rates.
Main said many of the pubs in St Albans didn’t’ get the relief because of the high property prices in the city.
Main said: “Thirty of the 50 pubs in St Albans have seen a rate increase. Astonishingly, they need to sell around 180,000 more pints per year to cover those increases.”
“CAMRA, which is based in my constituency, recently provided a comprehensive submission to the Chancellor ahead of the Budget in September. It [CAMRA] has called for a full review of the business rate system with regard to pubs.
“It maintains that the current system is not fit for purpose and a review is needed to tackle the unfair penalisation of property-based businesses like pubs, especially given the vastly reduced levels of taxation paid by online retailers.”
Main also highlighted an additional problem affecting pubs. There has been a progressive trend of commercial space becoming residential space and sadly, this is affecting businesses across St Albans.
She said: “This is a double whammy for pubs. The new rate simply provides a cliff edge that penalises successful businesses in areas plagued by high property value. We must devise a system that helps all small business and pubs to thrive, not just the ones with low retail value.”
Main praised CAMRA for its submission to the Chancellor ahead of the Budget in September last year. The Campaign called for a full review of the business rate system in order to tackle the unfair penalisation of property-based businesses like pubs.
CAMRA chief executive Tom Stainer said: “It’s great to see MPs from across the political divide coming together to recognise that pubs are a force for good. It’s clear that MPs want fundamental reform of our outdated and unfair business rates system.
“I’d urge the Government to listen carefully to unified calls from backbenchers and from the pub industry to safeguard the long term future of the Great British Pub.”
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