Business rates help welcome but duty freeze a missed opportunity

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Business rates help welcome but duty freeze a missed opportunity

In his Autumn statement the chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a freeze on alcohol duty until next August plus extended the business rate relief scheme for small businesses.

CAMRA national chairman Nik Antona said: “Extending the 75 per cent discount on business rates for pubs in England for another year beyond next April is very much welcome. It’s much needed for pubs facing rising prices and the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

“The chancellor admitted temporary measures like this couldn’t go on forever, so it is vital the government urgently reforms the grossly unfair business rates system which penalises pubs and puts their future at risk.

“CAMRA is calling on the Scottish and Welsh governments to commit, now, to offering similar help for pubs with the burden of business rates. We’d also like to see the UK government find a way to help with business rates for the beer and pub sector in Northern Ireland if there continues to be no executive ministers in post to do so.

“Freezing all alcohol duty until August 2024 is certainly to be welcomed. However, this is a missed opportunity to give targeted help to protect the nation’s pubs, social clubs and taprooms by cutting tax on draught beer and cider served there instead of an across-the-board freeze in all alcohol duty.

“Reducing the tax burden specifically on pints in pubs must be extended in the future to keep pub-going affordable and to help keep them open and by giving them a fighting chance of competing against cheap supermarket alcohol.”

The country’s small brewers also welcomed the freeze in business rates and called for reform of business rates.

SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) chief executive Andy Slee said: “After the double digit increase in beer duty only months ago, independent breweries will heave a huge sigh of relief that duty is now frozen until next summer allowing the new alcohol duty system time to bed in.

“The business rates discount being extended will also be welcome news for community pubs and taprooms, though a full reform of the system is still needed in the near future.

“However, there are a number of missed opportunities. Firstly, the decision to not extend draught duty relief, which could have provided a much-needed festive boost to our community pubs and independent breweries.

“Secondly, there has been no support for small independent breweries seeking to meet the government-set net zero emissions targets. Breweries are increasingly conscious of their environmental impact, and it is essential that targeted grants and subsidies are in place to encourage this.”

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