Sector missing £25m of pub-specific rates relief payments

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Immediate reform: ALMR study shows £25m worth of rates relief missing for pubs
Immediate reform: ALMR study shows £25m worth of rates relief missing for pubs

Related tags Non-metropolitan district Local government

Pubs are still waiting to receive business rates relief payments worth up to £25m to the sector, research from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has found.

The study by the ALMR showed that out of 25 selected local authorities​ in England - which account for 20% of the total payments promised by the government - 22 had not yet developed a scheme to distribute any discretionary business rates relief.

There was no evidence that any councils had issued the £1,000 pub-specific relief that is payable to pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000, ALMR researchers said.

The pubs relief scheme was announced by the Chancellor in the spring Budget to provide local councils with funding and the discretion to award rates relief to independent pubs.

Relief delays risk more pub closures

However, ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The fact that this relief has been made available to local authorities and is still not getting through to where it is most needed, proves we need immediate and wholesale reform of a broken system.

“Pubs and restaurants are in urgent need of financial assistance and have already seen some closures across London due in part to spiralling business rates bills and these delays risk others suffering the same fate.”

Nicholls said councils need to make their relief schemes as “fair as possible”, and be free from restrictions or red tape as businesses of all sizes and trading styles are in need of support.

Leading by example

Earlier this month, Wycombe District Council announced that 90 pubs in the area qualify for the additional rates relief.

Councillor David Watson, Wycombe District Council's cabinet member for finance, said: "We’re really pleased that the details of this scheme have been finalised and we can now send out revised bills to the 90 pubs that are eligible.

"We hope that the extra £1,000 off the bill does indeed bring these pubs, many of which are at the heart of their local community, some welcome relief."

Bare minimum

Commenting on the council’s announcement, Nicholls said it was good to see a local authority “pushing ahead with the relief that will be much appreciated by hard-working businesses in Wycombe”.

“It is important to remember, however, that this is the bare minimum in terms of a relief that was promised by the Government at the Budget,” she continued.

“Wycombe Council is not going above and beyond, and other local authorities are dragging their feet on this issue and need to catch up immediately.”

‘Extend relief to £5,000’

A spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) also praised Wycombe Council’s move, but said progress in other areas “remains too slow”.

“Rising beer duty rates and an unfair business rates regime that results in pubs paying far more than their fair share means that they need more help,” said the spokesman.

“The £1,000 relief announced by the Government in March should not only be paid much more quickly, but also extended to £5,000 and for the duration of this parliament instead of just one year.”

Related topics Legislation

Related news

Show more