Landlords meeting with a Treasury minister to advance business rates campaign

The Save St Albans Pubs campaign, outside The Six Bells. Picture: Submitted by Save St Albans Pubs

The Save St Albans Pubs campaign, outside The Six Bells. Picture: Submitted by Save St Albans Pubs - Credit: Archant

Publicans in St Albans are bringing the business rates controversy before a minister of the Treasury today.

Landlords in the Save St Albans Pubs campaign have bagged a meeting with the exchequer secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick, after St Albans MP Anne Main wrote to chancellor Philip Hammond in December last year.

Mr Jenrick is the minister responsible for policy around Beer Duty and Business Rates.

They will discuss a 2017 increase in business rates which the pubs felt is unreasonable. For example 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.

More than 30 of the 50 pubs in this area have been impacted, and they will need to collectively sell approximately 180,000 pints per year to cover the hike.

A discount revealed in the October Budget gave a third off business rates for retail premises, but many St Albans pubs do not qualify because they are valued above £51,000.

Additionally, turnover is part of the equation used to calculate business rates - a sore point for successful establishments.

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In the meeting with Mr Jenrick, Save St Albans Pubs will be asking for an amendment to the budget so they qualify for the small business rate relief, an immediate rates freeze until 2022, and a review of the calculation formula so it considers different pub ownership models, does not penalise success, and becomes more transparent.

The campaign will be presenting case studies and financial information to back up their claims.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “Save St Albans Pubs is pleased and excited that Anne Main has been able to get this opportunity to put St Albans landlords’ case in front of the Treasury.

“This is a direct result following on from Anne’s visit to St Albans [in November] where she was able to see firsthand the impact of the 2017 business rate reform on our pubs.”

There will also be a Westminster Hall debate entitled Effect of Business Rates on Pubs on Tuesday, January 15. Mrs Main has asked St Albans publicans to email about the issues involved for the discussion.