Beer Duty and Pub Business Rates March 2017

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding beer duty and business rates on pubs and the related campaign by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

I very much value pubs, which are often at the heart of our community life. It is concerning, therefore, that so many across the country continue to close every week. This loss is not only felt by local communities but by our economy as a whole in terms of jobs, trade and tax revenues. Pubs are important community hubs in our local area, and across the UK they provide 850,000 jobs. I believe we must do everything we can to ensure that pubs continue to play their important role in British life.

I know before the Spring Budget a number of organisations joined CAMRA in calling for support for pubs facing significant increases in their business rates due to the revaluation which comes into force in April.

Ahead of the Budget I supported the Opposition's calls for an emergency transitional relief fund and a series of other measures to ease the business rate burden, with deeper reform of the system for the longer term to support the traditional fabric of our communities, including community pubs.

Following the pressure from inside and outside of Parliament, a new temporary £1,000 discount on business rates bills for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 was announced. I know CAMRA has welcomed this relief and has called for it to be made permanent and increased further in future Budgets.

However, I also appreciate the concerns that have been raised about the decision to increase the duty rates on beer, cider, wine and spirits by RPI inflation in the Budget, adding £125 million to the cost base of pubs, and that CAMRA has predicted that this will lead to pub closures.

In my view a comprehensive approach is required to support consumers and community pubs. For example, the Opposition have continued to hold the Government to account on issues such as the implementation of the statutory Pubs Code.

Thank you once again for writing to me. I will follow the Autumn Statement and the choices that the new Chancellor makes very closely and will bear in mind the points you raise.