Local Councils Fail To Keep Spring Budget Promise, ALMR Reveals

According to a study by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), local authorities are yet to make the promised £31 million worth of business rates relief available to pubs and restaurants – as announced at the Spring budget.

In a sample of 25 local authorities, ALMR claims that 22 are yet to develop a scheme to distribute discretionary relief worth £31 million to struggling businesses, which includes £1,000 in relief for pubs with a rateable value of £100,000 or below and a £300 million discretionary fund for local authorities. It also found no evidence of any councils issuing the £1,000 pub-specific relief, worth potentially £25 million to the sector.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The fact that this relief has been made available to local authorities and is still not getting through to where it is most needed, proves we need immediate and wholesale reform of a broken system.

“Pubs and restaurants are in urgent need of financial assistance and have already seen some closures across London due in part to spiralling business rates bills and these delays risk others suffering the same fate.

“Local authorities are sitting on money that has been earmarked for hardworking and very hard-pressed businesses. In some cases, those local authorities that have devised schemes for discretionary rates have excluded pubs, the very businesses that have been hardest hit. Councils need to make their relief schemes as fair as possible, and be free from restrictions or red tape as businesses of all sizes and trading styles are in need of support.

“Recent consumer research by CAMRA showed that the majority of customers agree that eating and drinking out venues need support. Local authorities risk the closure of vital social and economic hubs if they do not act immediately.”