National pub lobbying groups throw support behind Save St Albans Pubs letter
PUBLISHED: 14:42 30 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:42 30 August 2019
National pub lobbying groups have thrown their support behind a St Albans pub campaign's plea to a governmental minister.
Save St Albans Pubs have penned a letter to the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Jake Berry, which contains a series of recommendations to stop businesses rates "crippling" the industry.
It has been signed by UKHospitality, the British Institute of Innkeeping, the British Beer and Pub Association, and the Brighton and Hove Licensees Association.
The letter says that pubs are paying 2.8 per cent of the business rates bill despite representing only 0.5 per cent of the total taxable turnover: "We are sending this letter collectively to demonstrate how serious a concern business rates are to the pub sector.
"We simply cannot afford for the current system to continue and doing so risks the loss of a national icon - the great British pub."
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A change to the way business rates were calculated in 2017 meant many pubs around St Albans faced a dramatic hike - The Blacksmiths Arms saw 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.
The letter asks Mr Berry for the rates multiplier to be reduced, a digital tax to be introduced, and a growth accelerator to be encouraged similar to a policy in Scotland.
It also asks for investment in the valuation office, more transparency in its methods, and an extension to the retail discount, which currently only operates for sites with a rateable value of under £51,000.
Co-chair of Save St Albans Pubs, Mandy McNeil, said: "With Brexit and the potential for a General Election, it means that despite all the hard work of this campaign on behalf of our pubs lobbying treasury and presenting to select committees, more pubs are closing every day as economic conditions exacerbate the impact that business rates have, such that people can't trade their way out of massive increases and have to close their doors.
"We need Jake Berry and the government to act urgently."
Save St Albans Pubs has been busy in recent months.
It has had meetings with the Valuation Office Agency, presented to the All Party Beer Committee, and participated in a working group with senior policy analysts.