As well as a place to enjoy a good drink, pubs are also social spaces that are central to life here in Mid Dorset and North Poole. I’m a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Beer which champions the brewing industry and pubs. From time to time, I hold surgeries for constituents in pubs! I have also worked closely with UK Hospitality, including looking at how the industry can support young people into work in my work as Chair of the Youth Employment All Party Group. That’s why I think it’s crucial the Government continues to support pubs. Here’s what action has been taken so far.
The Government is helping communities connect and protect their pubs in three key ways. The Asset of Community Value scheme means that communities can make their local an ‘asset of community value’. This means that if a pub owner wants to sell up, the community has six months to come up with a plan and funding to save it. Around 2,000 pubs across England listed as assets of community value.
Also, I am pleased that the £3.6 million 'More than a Pub: The Community Business Support Programme', launched in 2016, is helping to support communities across England to own their local pub. On top of this, the Government continues to support the work of the Pub is The Hub initiative to help landlords diversify and provide essential services, such as village shops and post offices, in order to improve the sustainability of their pub.
Connecting local pubs and their communities is crucial, but not sufficient. This is why the Chancellor announced in the Autumn Budget 2018 a freeze on beer, cider, and spirit duties, a great move for pubs. The Spring Budget 2017 also provided a £1,000 discount on business rates bills in 2017 for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 (about 90 per cent of pubs in England). In addition, a one-third discount to business rates for pubs and bars with a rateable values below £51,000 was introduced in 2018.
Freezing the duty rates means the price of a typical pint of beer will be 2p lower than if prices had risen with inflation; the price of a pint of cider will be 1p lower; and the price of a bottle of Scotch whisky will be 30p lower. This follows the removal of the beer duty escalator in 2013 and the unprecedented cuts and freezes in beer duty since then, as well as the removal of the duty escalator for spirits, wine and cider in 2014.
I hope, while working closely with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Pubs, this great work can be continued.