Pubs Campaign

29th March 2019

During yesterday’s sitting in Parliament, MPs held a debate on the importance of Beer, Taxation and Pubs across the United Kingdom. Key issues of business rates on pubs, beer duty and community importance were discussed at length during the three-hour debate in the main chamber.

Mrs Main held a debate in Parliament on this issue several months ago and has been meeting with Treasury Ministers and officials with St Albans publicans to seek changes to business rate rules.

Yesterday, Mrs Main highlighted the contribution pubs make to local communities. Anne said, “There are so many other things: some pubs run mini-libraries, while others run campaigns to support local people in need or help charities. Some hold darts matches. They are a focal point for many people who have nowhere else to go to meet friends and can be a place for celebrations with relatives as well.”

Mrs Main used her speech to focus on the issue of business rates and the impact they have had on her local pubs.

The Chancellor announced in the Autumn Budget in October last year that he was reducing business rates by a third, but this only applies to those with a rateable value of less than £51,000 a year. Sadly, this does not include most pubs in St Albans.

She said that, “many [St Albans] pubs have contacted me about a massive hike in business rates; they have to cut staff or close their businesses altogether. That cannot be the message that the Government intended to send out.

“The cut of 33% in rates for businesses with a rateable value of under £51,000 was a major step, but in areas such as St Albans it is not having an impact. Areas with high property values such as St Albans are almost totally overlooked.”

The MP also highlighted the example of one of her local pubs saying, “The Boot [in St Albans], which I have just mentioned, is an absolutely tiny heritage pub—some people have bigger sitting rooms. People there reckon they would have to sell an additional 22,000 pints to cover the additional £51,000 in business rates that they now have to pay—a 280% increase. That is unsustainable.”

Mrs Main finished her hard-hitting speech by sending a message to the Treasury minister responsible for business rates. She said “I put in a plea for the Minister not to hide behind all the different things that have been done. It is not enough, and we need to look at [business rate reform] again.”

Following the debate, Mrs Main spoke about the “encouraging support across the House” for additional support for pubs. She emphasised the need for the Treasury to “think again” and offer more support to pubs who have been hit the hardest by business rate reform.

“I will continue to campaign to support local small businesses and pubs”, said Mrs Main. “I hope to meet with the Treasury alongside local pub owners again next week and we will continue to make the case for support from central government. We must protect pubs that give so much to our community and contribute significantly to our local economy. The government should be striving to support hard-working small business owners; they can only do that for pubs when they look again at the business rate system.”

Anne Main speaking in Parliament, March 2019

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