Designed to scrutinise what impact the Government’s rates policy has had on business, the Treasury committee’s enquiry will cover how business rates policy has changed, including rates retention, alternatives to property-based taxes, such as the proposed digital services tax, and how changes to business rates could impact businesses.
Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a one third cut in business rates for pubs, shops, restaurants and cafés with a rateable value of up to £51,000 in his Autumn Budget on 29 October – in what he described as a “Budget for the high street”.
However, research from the Altus Group found that more than 5,000 pubs could be worse off as of April 2019, with a large number of pubs ineligible for the aforementioned discount.
The deadline for written contributions to the enquiry is 2 April 2019.
Complete overhaul needed
Welcoming the launch of the enquiry, UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls commented: “A thorough examination of the effects of business rates has been a long time coming.
“The system is now completely out of date, doesn’t reflect the realities of business in the 21st century and disproportionately cripples hospitality.
“This is a positive sign that business rates is still very much on parliament’s agenda, despite the Brexit distraction, and rightly so.
“Only a complete overhaul of the system – as promised in the Conservatives' manifesto – will ensure high street businesses, and hospitality employers in particular, are finally going to be taxed fairly.”
Risk losing pubs forever
Tom Stainer, the chief executive of CAMRA appointed in January 2019, added: "CAMRA welcomes the Treasury committee's decision to launch an inquiry into business rates.
“We need a complete overhaul of the system to end the current situation where pubs are unfairly penalised.
“As things currently stand, 18 pubs are still closing their doors every week, and the pubs that were hit hardest at the last rate revaluation are the ones still facing sky-high bills, and not getting any rate relief.
“We risk losing those pubs forever if immediate action isn't taken.
“We will be working to get pubs to share their own personal experiences with the Treasury through the inquiry process to ensure that their voices are heard and that meaningful reform is implemented."