MP urges tax support to save St Albans pubs from closure

St Albans MP Daisy Cooper is campaigning to protect local pubs from the hike in business rates. Pict

St Albans MP Daisy Cooper is campaigning to protect local pubs from the hike in business rates. Picture: Daisy Cooper's office - Credit: Archant

St Albans MP Daisy Cooper is calling on the government to raise the cap on business rates or face the closure of some of Britain’s best-loved pubs.

Speaking during a parliamentary debate on the taxation of beer and pubs, Daisy signalled that a number of small businesses in St Albans, including pubs, fear they may not survive the coming financial year due to huge hikes in business rates.

Daisy said that this means the government has only seven weeks to save them before the financial year ends.

She said: "In St Albans, more than 30 per cent of our pubs have rateable values greater than £51,000, meaning they are ineligible for the business rate relief announced in the Queen's speech.

"I would urge the minister to look again at this cap and as an immediate measure extend the business rate relief beyond the £51,000 cap for pubs."

Daisy highlighted several of St Albans's historic pubs, including The Boot, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks and the Cock, as examples of landmark pubs that draw locals and tourists to town centres.

She said: "We all know the business rates system is broken. We all know it punishes property-based businesses, as well as those successful licensees who increase their turnover.

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"The implication is that our landmark pubs are most at threat."

The Boot, in Market Place, has seen its rateable value leap by 281 per cent, leaving it to sell an extra 22,000 pints of beer a year to cover the increase.

Two other pubs, The Rose and Crown and The Six Bells, in the St Michael's village area of St Albans, are of a similar size and just one minute's walk apart, and yet one has a rateable value £43,250 higher than the other.

Daisy said: "How on earth does the minister expect that pub to compete when the government is hampering its ability to do so?

"The government has got to get a grip. It has been dragging its heels for years and years. We need immediate rates relief for our Great British landmark pubs and wholesale reform of the business rates system."

The group Save St Albans Pubs has campaigned to fight the hike in business rates, along with the St Albans-based CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale).

Last year The Boot feigned its own closure to raise awareness of the threat of business rate hikes.