Urgent call for case studies to address punitive business rates

A group of St Albans pub landlords spearheading a campaign to address the iniquities of the impact of business rates on pubs is calling for case studies to present to the government to bolster its case for a change in rates assessment.

Members of the campaign group including chairman Sean Hughes, Christo Tofalli, Mandy McNeil and Alan Oliver last month met the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick MP, to urge the Government to review pubs’ business rates. They must now produce evidence of pubs that have seen an unfair increase in business rates since the last Budget, and would like to receive any examples of business rates having risen from pub landlords across the UK.

The business rate relief announced by the Chancellor in his October budget provides a third off business rates for businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less, but this reduction has not helped the majority of pubs in St Albans, which have seen an increase in their business rates, according to the lobby group, which is now supported by CAMRA.

The group told the Treasury Minister the announced cut in rates had putting further pressure on their businesses rather than proving to be of any help.

Save St Albans Pubs said the government had to realise that the formula for calculating the rates was not helping to support local businesses and pubs in high value areas. It is now tasked with gathering case studies illustrating the iniquities of the current busi8nesws rate system with regards to pubs

The system of taxing turnover and high property value has meant that the aim of the cut will not help in such areas. The lobby group is hoping the Treasury will consider offering a one third cut on rates up to the first £51,000.

More than 30 pubs have been affected, and collectively they will need to sell around 180,000 pints per year to cover the hike, according to Save St Albans Pubs.

St Albans MP Anne Main secured a debate in Parliament in January on the negative impact business rate reform has had on many pubs and businesses in her constituency.

It has asked the government to provide an amendment to the budget so that the proposed rate relief for small businesses with rateable values of £51,000 or less will apply to all pubs for the first £51,000 in rateable values whatever their rateable value.

It is calling for an immediate freeze in the next budget on current business rate levels (payable 2018/2019) such that there is no further increases to rates until 2022.

It is also seeking a review of the business rate tax formula, in consultation with Save St Albans Pubs and other landlords nationally in order to develop a transparent business rate formula that considers the various pub ownership models whilst reviewing a new business rates system for pubs (tied, free of tie, freehold etc.); that does not penalise the pubs which operate more efficiently nor subsidise the pubs which operate less efficiently; and that lowers taxes/multiplier used to calculate business rates

It is also calling for a fair or transparent business rates system with a streamlined, timely appeals process where valuations are reviewed on a more frequent basis rather than every five years.

Anne Main MP said: “Save St Albans Pubs made an excellent case to the Minister. The government have to realise that this formula for calculating the rates is not helping to support local businesses and pubs in high value areas like mine. The system of taxing turnover and property value has meant that the aim of the cut will not help in areas like mine.”

The group is also seeking financial support from the wider industry to achieve its goal. To assist the campaign please contact campaign@saveukpubs.com and cc: mandydm@fastmail.fm

The campaign’s Facebook page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/savestapubs/