All agreed there must be urgent reform of business rates, beer duty and the pubs code to give assistance to pubs on what CAMRA has called ‘Lobby Day’.
The day saw the launch of CAMRA’s three-point plan to save pubs which MPs were encouraged to commit to.
The three-point plan involves:
- Introducing a preferential rate of duty for draught beer
- Reforming the business rates system to address the unfair burden on pubs
- Conducting an urgent review of the pubs code so the market-rent-only (MRO) option becomes a genuine choice for tenants
Members held meetings with MPs throughout the day, which culminated in a rally with speeches from the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG) chairman Mike Wood alongside MPs Ruth Smeeth and Alan Brown.
The lobby followed the Budget on 29 October, where Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a welcome decision to freeze duty on beer, cider and spirits alongside a new package of business rate relief to help pubs with a rateable value of up to £51,000.
While the change will see annual savings of up to £8,000 for some pubs, CAMRA said it was extremely disappointed that pub-specific rate relief has been scrapped, meaning those with a rateable value of more than £51,000 will lose out.
CAMRA national chairman Jackie Parker said: “While welcome, the Budget measures are just a sticking plaster, which doesn’t tackle the root issues.
“There must be long-term change and reform to business rates, beer duty and the pubs code to stop the rate of pub closures, which is currently running at 18 per week."
She added: “The Lobby Day has been a huge success. It gave members an opportunity to speak to their MPs direct about tackling the root causes of pub closures and the need for fundamental reform to ensure pubs remain at the heart of communities and continue to make a valuable contribution to our society, culture and economy.”
Speaking at the members’ rally, APPBG chair Mike Wood emphasised the need for a review of local business taxation.
He said: “We need to ensure we have a proper review of local business taxation. [One] that goes beyond what was announced [in the Budget] on business rates so pubs of all sizes are actually taxed at a fair rate and we have a taxation system fit for the 21st century rather than the 1950s and one that recognises the economy as it is now, rather than one that was based solely on land values.”