I have been contacted by constituents concerned about support for pubs and Early Day Motion 1233. As a Government Minister I cannot, by convention, sign any Early Day Motions. However, I certainly recognise the crucial role that pubs play in the social and economic life of our communities. They are important assets – the British Beer and Pub Association estimate that each pub contributes £80,000 every year to its local economy, and they provide local hubs that strengthen community relationships.
I am encouraged by the support which the Government has made available to pubs and it has introduced a range of measures which include:
- Providing a £1,000 discount on business rates bills in 2017 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 - 90 per cent of pubs. This has been extended to March 2019;
- Providing £3.6 million to 'More than a Pub: The Community Business Support Programme', launched in March 2016. This is helping to support communities across England to own their local pub;
- Supporting the work of the Pub is The Hub initiative with funding of £350,000 to help landlords diversify and provide essential services, such as village shops and post offices, in order to improve the sustainability of their pub;
- Permanently doubling Small Business Rate Relief from 50 per cent to 100 per cent for properties with a rateable value below £12,000. This means that 600,000 small businesses will pay no business rates at all. A further 50,000 businesses will receive tapered relief;
- Providing local authorities with a £300 million fund to deliver discretionary relief on business rates to target individual hard cases in their local areas;
- Freezing duty on cider, wine, beer and spirits in 2018;
- Introducing the Live Music Act 2012 which makes it easier for pubs to play live music;
- Giving pubs greater flexibility over weights and measures, allowing beer and wine to be served in different sizes;
- Giving publicans tied to pub companies new rights under a statutory code of practice.
Finally, through the Asset of Community Value scheme, communities can list facilities of local importance, including pubs. I am glad that there are now around 2,000 pubs across England listed as assets of community value.
Pubs are an important part of local communities and I will continue to support them.