Chancellor invited on pub crawl to hear business rates struggles

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Invitation: Chancellor Philip Hammond was urged to go on a pub crawl by MPs, to hear small pubs' experiences of the business rates system. (Image: Secretary of Defense, Flickr)
Invitation: Chancellor Philip Hammond was urged to go on a pub crawl by MPs, to hear small pubs' experiences of the business rates system. (Image: Secretary of Defense, Flickr)

Related tags: Chancellor, Business rates

Chancellor Philip Hammond was invited to go on a pub crawl by MPs, in order to experience the struggles faced by small pubs under the current business rates system.

Daniel Kawczynski, the Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, said he would like the Chancellor to hear the concerns of local landlords, including at his local the Salopian, during yesterday's Treasury Questions.

“I would like him to hear first hand of the extraordinary rise in business rates some of these pubs have had to deal with, Kawczynski said.

At Treasury Questions I asked @PhilipHammondUK​ to join me on a Pub crawl in Shrewsbury to Salopian bar and other pubs to hear from landlords their concerns over increasing business rates. @ShropshireStar@BBCShropshire

— Daniel Kawczynski (@DKShrewsbury) September 11, 2018

Hammond said he would be “very tempted” to consider the offer, providing it was submitted in writing, the Press Association reported.

He added: “Pubs in Shrewsbury have benefited from recent cuts to alcohol duties and business rates, but of course we recognise the challenge many small businesses are facing and we will bear that very much in mind as we formulate policies going forward.”

An invitation to visit small pubs in Darlington was also offered by Jenny Chapman, the Labour MP for the constituency, as she urged a reconsideration of the system.

High-street challenges

She said: “Many of us who represent towns are fighting hard to support our high streets. The situation needs urgently looking at.”

The Chancellor agreed to investigate the ways small pubs are disadvantaged by the business rates system.

“We all realise high streets are under pressure, primarily because the behaviour of consumers is changing,” he said.

“We cannot simply turn our backs on a change that is driven by consumer behaviour. We do have to support businesses as they meet that challenge.”

Closures

These initiatives from MPs follow news earlier in the week that eight licensed sites closed per week in the last year, which had been attributed to a “perfect storm of cost pressures”​.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls urged the Government to support the sector in the next Budget.

She said: "Despite promises from the Government to reform business rates, pubs, restaurants and bars are still forced to operate within an unfair system that favours digital businesses above those at the heart of communities.

A proposal ​by the Liberal Democrats to replace business rates with a land levy was regarded warmly by the trade group last month, but UKHospitality emphasised their focus on calling for immediate action.

Related topics: Property law

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