Act now to save our locals

By The PMA Team

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Community pubs Need Better Cask ale Community pubs inquiry

Government can save pubs
Government can save pubs
The long-awaited report by Community Pubs Inquiry has called for urgent Government action to stem the rate of pub closures. The inquiry, which was...

The long-awaited report by Community Pubs Inquiry has called for urgent Government action to stem the rate of pub closures.

The inquiry, which was organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group and began gathering evidence in May 2006, has concluded that there are lots of small things Government can do to improve the chances of pubs surviving.

It concludes that action can be taken on a large number of fronts if the rate of 36 pub closures a week is to be reduced.

The main recommendations are:

• Beer price differentials: The Treasury must look at the wider impact of beer duty before imposing any more increases on community pubs. The inquiry recommends a reduced rate of duty and/or VAT on draught beer to reverse the trend away from drinking in public places or getting "tanked up" at home before a night out.

• AWP machines: The Government should increase AWP stakes and prizes and abolish gaming duty for the first fruit machine in each pub.

• Diversification for community pubs needs to be made simpler: Pubs need better access to funding, finance and advice for diversification. Government support is needed to spread best practice through Pub is the Hub. Better guidance is also needed to ensure local authorities understand and support pubs' needs in the planning process and evaluate community contribution as part of planning proposals.

• Simplify licensing: The inquiry concludes that the licensing process needs to be made simpler and cheaper. The spirit of the Licensing Act needs reinforcing to local authorities, with a code of practice to spread best practice in enforcement and to ensure costly and inappropriate conditions are not placed on licensees.

• Rate relief: rate relief and rateable values need revising to make sure all community pubs can be rewarded for their community contribution through a discount to their rates, and the rating appeals process must be made more accessible.

• Funding training: Licensees should be given greater access to funded training to allow them to develop the necessary business skills to diversify successfully.

The report also calls on Sky to support community pubs by lowering its prices to pubs that have low profitability, but high rateable values.

The inquiry report concludes: "There are many, many areas of Government activity where some relatively small changes could go a long way to improving marginal pubs' viability."

Related topics Legislation

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