Publican's petition to cap business rates reaches 1,000 signatures

By Georgina Townshend contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pubs in danger: owner of the Boot, St Albans, says 'enough is enough'
Pubs in danger: owner of the Boot, St Albans, says 'enough is enough'

Related tags: St albans, Taxation in the united kingdom

A national petition to cap business rates, set up by a publican who would need to sell 22,000 extra pints a year to cover the rise in his rateable value, has reached more than 1,000 signatures.

Sean Hughes, owner of the Boot, St Albans, Hertfordshire, has had a 280% increase in the pub's rateable value to £103,000 – an increase payable of £38,000.

And Hughes is not alone. Most pubs in St Albans City have increased by, on average, £27,000 in rateable value, he said. As a result, the publican felt compelled to set up the Save St Albans Pubs​ campaign.

"At a time when we are all trying to get to pay the London living wage to our hard-working staff, introduce pensions, pay increased food and drinks costs (due to the fall in the pound) plus an increase in beer duty from the last Budget, we are at crisis point and someone has to make a stand, which is why we are all working as a group of landlords to say to the Chancellor, enough is enough," he told The Morning Advertiser.

As part of the campaign, Hughes set up a Government petition​ to introduce an interim 'pub cap', limiting increases in rates bills to 12.5% in England, and a full review of the business rates system – which currently has 1,054 signatures.

The petition reads: "Pubs in St Albans and parts of England have been hit with extortionate business rate increases due to property values increasing over the past decade. We believe there needs to be a fundamental review on the business rates system to stop pubs disappearing from our villages, towns and cities."

Increasing the price of a pint

Hughes said he has also received support from St Albans MP Anne Main, who read out the petition during a debate in Westminster​, and St Albans Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Daisy Cooper.

"We are a very busy pub. To get busier would be nearly impossible, so the only thing we can do is increase the price of a pint," he continued.

"We have already added 20p to a pint and will have to increase this again.

"We are at our bottom line. We cannot absorb increased costs and keep the business profitable. Four pubs closed in the past year with a few in danger currently."

He added: "This is a serious time for pubs in St Albans and across the country, and I don’t think the Chancellor has a clue about the impact this will have. Even successful independent businesses that employ local people and already pay a very high percentage of tax. Wet-led tied pubs like us are particularly vulnerable to any increase, however busy they appear to be."

Hughes needs 10,000 signatures for the Government to respond to the petition, and 100,000 for it to be considered for debate in parliament.

Related topics: Legislation

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