The ALMR has stepped up its campaign to bring about business rates reform with a letter to the Telegraph. The letter highlights the significance of pubs and bars to the UK’s high streets and calls for immediate action to protect businesses. ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nicholls also spoken to the BBC, again highlighting the problem for the UK’s licensed hospitality sector.
Ms Nicholls said: “The prominence of the ALMR’s campaign, along with sector-wide efforts, to bring about business rates reform for pubs shows what a crucial issue this is. Pubs and bars are looking at rates increases in every sector of the UK and it is well past time that the Government acted to provide support for businesses facing the greatest burdens.”
The ALMR has also welcomed the decision by the Scottish Government to cap rates increases at 12.5% and the Welsh Government’s proposal to introduce hospitality relief worth £10m. The ALMR has called upon the UK Government to follow these examples with similar measures to ensure fairness in rates bills for pubs and bars.
Nicholls continued: “These moves by the Scottish and Welsh Governments are a good first step in recognising that hospitality businesses are being unfairly treated by a system that does not work. Westminster must follow this example with sector-specific relief for pubs and bars that are uniquely disadvantaged by this totally unsuitable system.
“The Government needs to act quickly to address this by reinstating high street relief or establishing a separate hospitality relief for pubs, bars and restaurants that contribute so much and are unfairly burdened. The Government must also ensure that businesses have a guaranteed right to appeal and a process that is effective, accurate and fair.
“The Treasury has already announced it stands to collect £1billion extra following the revaluation so any immediate reliefs need not be a drain on the country’s finances. Scrapping business rates cuts for corporate giants and warehouse-based businesses would also begin to rebalance the scales and ensure some fairness in the system; a tactic supported by a number of Conservative backbench MPs.
“Action by the Government at the Budget can bring stability for businesses in the short term as they navigate the new rates. We can then begin to look ahead at fundamental reform of the rates system to guarantee fairness for hardworking businesses.”