We do generally avoid politics on the Fourtharch and we aren’t planning to talk about Trump or Brexit because what we do is pubs and beer and not fake news. That said, there are things that are difficult for us to avoid and we won’t avoid pub or beer topics because they are political- for us to not talk about the duty on beer or the laws on tied pubs would be odd.
This one is a bit of a broader one and affects a variety of businesses but our focus is on pubs. In the UK, Business Rates are the tax paid to the local Council on business premises, essentially they are the corporate version of Council Tax. The rate of these is based on a formula that is calculated based on the value of the property and this value is reviewed over time, usually every five years. The bad news for businesses is that there hasn’t been a review for seven years and a review is now being carried out.
For businesses based in city centres, where property values have increased considerably over that time, they face large increases. Our worry is that city centres contain a lot of pubs and pubs are closing at a frightening enough rate as it is. The Association for Licensed Multiple Retailers estimates that pubs will face an average increase of 15% on their Business Rates.
I don’t know how many pubs that will close, but it’s hard to believe that the effect won’t be noticed in increasing prices passed on to the consumer and some pubs won’t survive it. I won’t go into the politics of it- there are many legitimate reasons we Council’s need more money for public services but I’m not sure that the struggling pub industry is one that should be targeted.