St Albans MP Anne Main holds debate in Parliament about business rates hike for pubs

St Albans MP Anne Main in the debate about business rates for St Albans pubs.

St Albans MP Anne Main in the debate about business rates for St Albans pubs. - Credit: Archant

St Albans MP Anne Main has urged ministers in Parliament to reduce business rates and help landlords putting their “lifeblood” into their pubs.

Mrs Main held a debate at Westminster on January 15 to argue for a revision in the business rates system, supporting campaign Save St Albans Pubs.

Establishments in the area were faced with a hike in 2017 - The Boot saw an increase of 280 per cent, the Blacksmiths Arms 82 per cent, The Beech House 59 per cent, Dylans 32 per cent, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks 60 per cent, and the Six Bells 87 per cent.

This is despite a relief for small businesses announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond in last year’s October Budget - most pubs in St Albans are valued above £51,000 and so do not qualify.

Mrs Main visited St Albans high street last November to meet Save St Albans Pubs, and at the end of the debate Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, agreed to do the same.

During discussions Mrs Main urged the Treasury to listen carefully to landlords around the country, arguing that the business rate formula has backfired.

She said: “ This [a progressive trend of commercial areas becoming residential space] is a double whammy for pubs.

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“Businesses, particularly pubs, are struggling under the current system, and the new rate simply provides a cliff edge that penalises successful businesses in areas plagued by high property values.”

Mrs Main said the historic, independent pubs “add vibrancy and attractiveness to our high streets”.

Save St Albans Pubs are looking for amendments to the Budget so they qualify for a one third discount, an immediate rates freeze until 2022, and a review of the calculation formula which currently penalises success.

Chief executive of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), Tom Stainer, said: “It’s great to see MPs from across the political divide coming together to recognise that pubs are a force for good.

“It’s clear that MPs want fundamental reform of our outdated and unfair business rates system. I’d urge the government to listen carefully to unified calls from backbenchers and from the pub industry to safeguard the long term future of the great British pub.”