St Albans MP visits city pubs to learn about the damage dealt by business rates increase
- Credit: Archant
St Albans MP Anne Main has toured a number of city pubs which have been badly affected by a business rate increase.
Save St Albans Pubs organised the tour with Mrs Main to highlight how many were being put at risk by tax increases.
Speaking outside of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, its landlord, Christo Tofalli, told her: “Unless we have proper reform and relevant taxes, licensing laws and duty costs, this pub is over.
“I have already pulled it back from despair once, I’m the only person in the last 50 years to spend any money on it.
“Our taxes have gone up to such an extent, I am personally funding this pub, and that’s the wrong way round.
“We need your support Anne.”
Mrs Main was shown around many of the pubs which saw an increase in their rates in 2015: The Blacksmiths Arms, which had an increase of 82 per cent; The Beech House (59 per cent); The Boot (280 per cent; Dylans (32 per cent); Ye Olde Fighting Cocks (60 per cent); and The Six Bells (87 per cent).
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A discount, revealed in the October Budget, gave a third off business rates for retail premises with a retail value below £51,000, but many St Albans pubs do not qualify as their rateable values are higher than £51k.
Business rates for pubs are calculated, in part, using turnover - a sore point for successful St Albans publicans.
The landlord of The Boot, Sean Hughes, said: “I think the equation the Government has used for pubs is wrong. It’s like a turnover tax.
“The problem with turnover is there are different types of pubs, all with different profits.”
Save St Albans Pubs has come up with a list of reforms which could help them, including: taxing supermarkets more to pay for tax relief for small businesses and a third off the first £51,000 of the rateable value for all pubs, not just a sample.
Stood next to a sign showing how the Fighting Cocks has seen a 60 per cent rate rise, Mrs Main said: “When you see this, it’s depressing.
“I am hoping you can make a coherent case as to why the model is broken and try and keep it on a particular track because people do talk about taxing supermarkets, but that is a slightly different argument and I need a distilled argument.”
She promised to put in for a debate slot.