Thousands of beer drinkers and pub-goers have called on MPs to send the Chancellor a message he can’t ignore in a crucial Parliamentary debate today (31 October at 2:30 pm) to discuss “Taxation of the Beer & Pub Sector” ahead of a Budget that could make or break Britain’s pubs.
The debate will highlight the pressures that the pub and brewing industries face to survive in an environment of rising beer duty and business rate increases. Campaigners warn that pubs could face closure thanks to a “triple whammy” of taxation, rate increases and an end to rate relief unless politicians start supporting the British pub industry.
MPs will be asked to get behind calls to the Chancellor to show more support for vital community pubs, which find it increasingly hard to remain competitive.
Licensees are already struggling following the 2p a pint increase on beer duty in March’s Budget and are facing a further 2p a pint increase in November’s Budget. The Chancellor needs to listen to calls to freeze or reduce beer duty in this Budget to help support the beer and pub industry which employs around 900,000 people and contributes more than £23bn to the economy.
Pubs faced a second blow this year when a change in the business rates system saw four in ten licensees facing rates hikes. The temporary £1,000 a pub rate relief offered by the Treasury comes to an end in March, leaving pubs to absorb the full force of the increases – which in some cases could simply mean going out of business.
And the final part of the “triple-whammy” for pubs will see the upper limit on annual business rate rises for community pubs increased from 12.5 per cent to 17.5 per cent, which could make the difference between survival and closure for many vital local pubs. CAMRA is calling for a £5,000 a pub business rate discount to be introduced.
Colin Valentine, CAMRA’s National Chairman, said: “The debate today is crucial to highlight the issues the pub sector faces and MPs have to realise they need to call on the Chancellor to start showing more support for this vital British industry.
“The beer and pub sector is already overburdened by tax, specifically business rates and beer duty – with tax making up a third of the price of a pint in a pub. Customers now find the price of beer less affordable, which means decreased sales and the likelihood of more boarded up pubs.
“Pubs deliver benefits to individuals, providing responsible and social environments to enjoy a drink. They benefit local economies with local employment and they provide a large amount of revenue for the Treasury. Failure to support pubs will see all these benefits reduced. We’ll see more people drinking at home, less local employment and reduced Government revenue.
“Time and time again independent research has shown how vital the pub and brewing sector is to the country as a whole – it’s time MPs listen to beer drinkers and pub goers in their constituency, and demand the Chancellor takes notice.”
Carl Ernsting, who runs the Star Inn in Halesworth, Suffolk, said: “We experienced a business rate increase of almost £10,000 and that combined with other increases will mean that our village pub that has traded since 1841, will no longer be a viable business.”
Martin Wood, licensee at the Hope Inn, Stockport, said: “Since the rate increases and beer duty escalator we have had no choice but to put our prices up, along with that and the fact we have to pay more VAT than supermarkets there has been a significant drop in trade, to the point we now struggle week on week, wondering if we can pay our way going forward.”
CAMRA has urged its 190,000 members across the country to email and write to their MPs encouraging them to take part in the debate today and speak on behalf of pubs and breweries in their constituencies. More information can be found at: http://www.camra.org.uk/keeppubsafloat