Licensee tells Prime Minister business rates are 'crippling' rural pubs

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Business rates Prime minister Cabinet Westminster system

The Royal Oak was hit with a £250 a month hike in business rates
The Royal Oak was hit with a £250 a month hike in business rates
A North Yorkshire publican has written to the Prime Minister warning him that village pubs will struggle to survive unless action is taken to address “crippling” and “ever increasing” business rates.

Stephen Cock, who has run the Royal Oak Inn in Dacre Banks, Harrogate, for the past 16 years, felt compelled to pen a letter to David Cameron and his local MPs after receiving a demand which pushed his business rates up by £250 per month. He now pays £1,253 per month on a gross turnover of £365,000.

“A local butcher’s shop whose turnover this year will go over £1m pays £500 per year in business rates, same as our local shops and a local garage pays nothing at all,” Cock wrote. “Do you think this is fair?”

The Royal Oak employs four full-time staff but is classed as a medium-sized business, a valuation the landlord suggests, was based on “the good years before the recession”.

Ripped off

“Every publican I have spoken to feels like they’re being ripped off and something needs doing if local village community pubs are going to survive,” Cock told the PMA. “I would like to see rural pubs like ours treated the same as village shops [in terms of business rates]. A pub is an essential part of a small village; we do all we can to look after local groups and people, fund raise for charity and seem to get overlooked.”

A spokesman for the British Beer & Pub Association said: “It seems the new retail relief announced last autumn has not been applied, so Mr Cock should get in touch with Harrogate Council and ask for this. This really does highlight the need for publicans to be vigilant, as we have been stressing, as local councils can opt not to apply this relief.”


Kate Nicholls, strategic affairs director at the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said the organisation was lobbying the Government to re-examine how business rates are calculated.

She said: “Pubs are taxed disproportionately when compared to other high street retailers. The business rates regime is out of date and relies too heavily on property values, meaning that once again the online retail giants and supermarkets pay less than their fair share of tax.”

Local Government minister Brandon Lewis said many family-run community pubs can now benefit from the “biggest package of business rates support in 20 years” and continued cuts.  He said the local council would be able to advise Cock on discounts available to him.

Last week the Government launched a consultation on business rates reform.

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