Philip Hammond has responded to pressure over business rates by outlining measures to ease the financial burden on pubs and restaurants in this afternoon’s Budget statement.
His plans have been met with a largely positive response from the industry after he confirmed that the actions include discounting pub business rates by £1,000. Experts say it will help “save the sector over £24m”.
The Chancellor announced that 90% of pubs will be given a substantial discount on their business rates bill, following fierce lobbying from businesses and backbench MPs.
Meanwhile, a £300m pot has been set aside for local authorities to relieve businesses hardest hit, including restaurants.
In a further boost, the government also pledged its commitment to a “root and branch” reform of the rates system, which will involve a medium term reform of the system to address the imbalance between high street and “clicks and mortar” businesses.
Trade body The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), which represents 23,000 outlets, responded positively to the news, saying that the sector-specific relief will help those businesses hardest hit by the revaluation.
“This much-needed government support will save the sector over £24m and will help safeguard investment and jobs,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the ALMR. “We are pleased to see the government acknowledge the issue and act positively to support a crucial growth champion and a sector with turnover of £60 billion employing over 1.5 million.”
The ALMR welcomed the government’s Statement and steps to address business rates inequality for pubs and bars and to promote growth and investment across the UK’s businesses. The body has been campaigning to reduce business rates burdens for licensed hospitality businesses and safeguard investment and jobs.
But some figures have struck out at the £1,000 discount, highlighting how it is a reduced rise, rather than a cut, as many have viewed it.
Shadow pubs minister, Toby Perkins MP, urged people not to be fooled. He tweeted: “Many pubs will just see their business rates go up by £1000 less than they would have before- a reduced rise not a cut.”
Yesterday, Greg Mulholland MP addressed Liberal Democrat supporters, highlighting how pubs and restaurants will be significantly disadvantaged as the only sector to see a rates increase in every region.
He said: “Half of all pubs and restaurants will see an increase in bills, with average bills rising by a fifth. Analysis shows that 2,700 pubs will receive an increase in their bills from April of over £5,000 per annum, which is incredibly difficult – indeed in many cases impossible – to absorb.”