The continuing business rates debacle

Suzanne Davies comments on increasing calls for a Budget announcement on business rates reform to help the pub and bar sector. Her article can be downloaded below.

Reflecting the rapidly growing concerns on this subject, since Suzanne wrote her article:

  • a House of Commons Westminster Hall debate (secured by Mike Wood MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group) on “Taxation: Beer and Pubs” took place on 31 October 2017 (the Hansard transcript of that debate can be downloaded below) and
  • a letter signed by 50 MPs has been sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking him “to act in the Autumn Budget to keep pubs afloat, by giving serious consideration to at least a freeze in beer duty for the rest of this Parliament [and] introducing an annual £5,000 business rate relief for pubs”; that letter can be downloaded below.

ALMR Chief Executive, Kate Nicholls has commented on the above-mentioned debate as follows: “The debate showed that there is proper recognition in Parliament of the importance of the eating and drinking out sector to the UK’s economic and social well-being, as well as being key to our national heritage. Pleasingly, it was also clear that our efforts to highlight shared industry concerns are being heard, at least on the backbenches, from where there was unanimity in support of our key asks. Now we desperately need that translated into actions from the front benches. The Chancellor’s Spring Budget showed that he is aware of the value of our industry, too, so a good next step would be to increase and extension of business reliefs for eating and drinking out businesses in his Budget in three weeks’ time, and to announce a thorough review of the whole business rates system.”

Update: In his 22 November 2017 Budget announcement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered the following good news for the industry:

  • the £1,000 business rates relief for pubs with a rateable value of under £100,000 will be continued until March 2019 in order to “support thousands of small pubs at the heart of so many communities”,
  • the changeover in indexation of business rates from RPI to CPI will be brought forward by two years to 2018,
  • the frequency of property revaluations will be increased from every five to every three years from 2025, and
  • all alcohol duties (including beer duty) will be frozen, with the exception of duty on high-strength “white ciders” that will be increased via new legislation.