The levels of taxation on beer and pubs is an important issue in Worsley and Eccles South. Pubs in the UK create one million jobs nationally and make £80,000 on average for their local economy each year. Pubs are also hubs for the community. I believe that we must take action to ensure their long-term future.
The pubs in Worsley and Eccles South play an important historical, cultural and community role and I share the concerns of publicans and their customers about the future of the industry and concerns about the level of beer duty.
At the 2017 Spring Budget, the Conservative Government increased the level of beer duty by retail price index inflation. This added 2p to the cost of a pint of beer and, together with increases in other alcohol duties, will cost pubs £125 million this year. I believe this was the wrong decision as it poses a risk to pubs, particularly alongside increasing inflation and higher business rates.
The Conservative Government announced in March 2017 that it would be providing a £1,000 rates discount for pubs with a rateable value up to £100,000. I agree with the comments made by CAMRA when they requested that Conservative Ministers go further in providing relief. I am concerned that the current relief represents only a temporary respite rather than long-term support.
There remain serious questions over how pubs will afford to stay open after the rates discount ends in 2018. I believe we need a fundamental review of business rates, alongside a number of other reforms, including switching from RPI to consumer price index inflation.