Members of the CAMRA national executive at Westminster. Left to right are: Gillian Hough, Nick Boley, Ian Packham, Jackie Parker, Ian Garner, Ash Corbett-Collins and Lynn Atack
Hundreds of CAMRA members descended on Westminster last week to send a message to MPs about the serious threats facing pubs.
All agreed there must be urgent reform to business rates, beer duty and the Pubs Code to save the Great British pub from extinction.
The lobby day day saw the launch of CAMRA’s three-point plan to save the Great British pub, and encouraged MPs to commit to:
- 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 that the market rent only option becomes a genuine choice for tenants.
CAMRA members held meetings with MPs throughout the day, which culminated in a rally with speeches from the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, Mike Wood MP, as well as MPs Ruth Smeeth and Alan Brown.
The lobby came the day after the Budget, which contained a welcome decision to freeze duty on beer and cider, and the announcement of a new package of business rate relief that will help smaller pubs.
While this change will see annual savings of up to £8,000 for some pubs, CAMRA is disappointed that pub-specific rate relief has been scrapped, meaning that pubs with a rateable value of more than £51,000 will lose out.
Pubs threatened with extinction
Many of these pubs saw the largest rates increases after the last revaluation, and are struggling under sky-high bills that threaten them with extinction.
CAMRA’s national chairman, Jackie Parker, said: “While welcome, the Budget measures are just a sticking plaster which doesn’t tackle the root issue. There must be long-term change and reform to business rates, beer duty and the Pubs Code to stop the decline of pubs closing, which is currently 18 per week.
“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, need for fundamental reform to ensure that 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, Mike Wood added: “We need to make sure that we have a proper review of local business taxation which goes beyond what was announced (in the Budget) on business rates, so that 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.”