The pub sector supports 900,000 jobs, generates £23 billion in economic value and provides £13 billion in tax revenues. In addition, 30 million adults visit the pub every month. Pubs are at the heart of the UK’s communities. However, they continue to be under severe threat.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has a number of concerns about taxation on beer and pubs. In the 2017 Autumn Budget the government froze beer duty. However, this followed an increase at the 2017 Spring Budget which added 2p to the cost of a pint of beer and, together with increases in other alcohol duties, will have cost pubs around £125 million last year.
On business rates, the government announced in November 2017 that it would be extending a £1,000 discount for pubs with a rateable value up to £100,000 for a further year. I am concerned that this relief still represents only a temporary respite rather than long-term support. Since the business rates revaluation in April 2017, around two pubs a day have been demolished or converted to other uses. We need a fundamental review of business rates, including making revaluations annual to stop small businesses from facing sharp and unmanageable increases, alongside a number of other reforms.
At the 2017 General Election I stood on a manifesto that committed to setting up a national review of local pubs to examine the reasons for their decline, as well as establishing a joint taskforce that will consider their future sustainability. It also committed to giving communities more power to shape their town centres, including by strengthening powers to protect pubs. I will continue to call for pubs to be given the support that is necessary for them to thrive and grow.