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Angry publicans contact MP over ‘out-of-date’ business rates

By Georgina Townshend , 23-Mar-2017
Last updated on 23-Mar-2017 at 15:00 GMT2017-03-23T15:00:39Z

Pubs united: a collective of landlords have lobbied their MP over business rates
Pubs united: a collective of landlords have lobbied their MP over business rates

A group of publicans from Kent have written to their local MP in the hope “someone might listen” to their concerns about “out of date” business rates.

Peter Killin, owner of the Smugglers, has written to the MP for Dover and Deal, Charlie Elphicke, on behalf of nine pubs stating “with this latest rate rise, I felt enough is enough”.

The letter represents the views of pub landlords in and around the village of St Margaret's At Cliffe, Kent.

The Government has announced a £1,000 business rate discount for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000, which Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond claimed will help 90% of pubs.

However, the announcement received mixed reactions from the trade, with critics claiming the move did not address the largest increases set to hit operators over coming months.

Compelled to involve MP

Killin wrote: “We have lost thousands of pubs, maybe that's a lifestyle change – who knows? But I think Government is totally out of touch with the reality of the village and small town pubs dilemma.”

“With this latest rate rise, I felt enough is enough. It's about time somebody tried to affect some sort of change to it.

“As small and insignificant as we are, I felt compelled to involve our local MP along with a few other free traders to voice our objections, and for him to take it forward to the Chancellor in the hope that somebody might listen.”

In the letter, Killen said the Government needed to address the issue with “the utmost urgency”.

New system of rating for pubs

The letter suggests that the current proposed business rates rise for pubs should not be implemented until a new system of rating has been applied to the pub industry.

Another suggestion was that all small town and village establishments should have their rating assessed in a similar manner to village stores and other small businesses.

“It is our view that the current system of business rating for pubs is totally out of date. Rating by trading area would appear to be fairer and more relevant to current trading methods,” the letter said.

The letter also addressed concerns over VAT on food within the pub and restaurant industry.

‘Businesses lost forever’

The letter continued: “As you are aware, success of pubs and restaurants in small towns and villages are vital for the sense of community that can be gained from them.

“If there is no financial help forthcoming from Government, many more of these businesses will be lost forever, and with that loss, village and rural town life becomes diminished.”

Killin has owned his establishment for more than 20 years, which he bought as a closed and failed pub and has turned its fortunes around.

However, he faces an increased rateable value this year – from £23,250 to £25,500.

He has seen two out of the three pubs in his village close for residential development.

Elphicke has been contacted for a comment on the letter, but has not yet replied to The Morning Advertiser.

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