The beer and pub industry is important to the UK. The pub is a long-established part of British life and the industry employs 850,000 people, mainly in the local pubs that form the hub of many communities. I believe we must do everything we can to ensure that pubs continue to enjoy the important role that they do in British life.
A number of organisations, including the British Beer and Pub Association and the Campaign for Real Ale, have called for the Government to cut beer duty at the 2017 Budget in March. I note that the Conservative Government has stated in response to questions on beer duty that it keeps all taxes under review.
CAMRA and others have called for Government action on business rates for pubs. I believe that the Government's business rates revaluation leaves many businesses at risk of closing due to large rate increases and this could have a significant impact on the pub industry. Recent reports, for example, state that the revaluation could cost pubs £421 million over the next five years and add 30p to the cost of a pint of beer.
Business rates are an issue that unites all stakeholders in the sector and they are one of the potential barriers we need to focus on if we are to ensure a thriving pub industry. The Government has provided a relief package for those affected by the increase but I do not believe it goes nearly far enough, given the other burdens facing small businesses such as quarterly tax reporting. I therefore support an overhaul of business rates.