Pubs in the UK create one million jobs and are important community hubs. That is why we must take action to ensure their long-term future.
At the 2017 Spring Budget, the government increased the level of beer duty by retail price index inflation. This added 2p to the cost of a pint of beer and together with increases in other alcohol duties will cost pubs £125 million this year. This decision poses a risk to pubs, particularly coming alongside increasing inflation and higher business rates.
The government announced in March 2017 that it would be providing a £1,000 discount for pubs with a rateable value up to £100,000. I know that campaigning group CAMRA, while believing the government should go further, welcomed this support. However, I am concerned that this relief represents only a temporary respite rather than long-term support. There remain serious questions over how pubs will afford to stay open after the discount ends in 2018. We need a fundamental review of business rates, alongside a number of other reforms, including switching from RPI to consumer price index inflation.
At the recent General Election I stood on a manifesto that committed to setting up a national review of local pubs to examine the causes 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 action to support the long-term future of local pubs.