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Community Pubs

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th November 2016.

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Photo of Graham Evans Graham Evans Conservative, Weaver Vale 12:00 am, 28th November 2016

What recent discussions he has had with local authorities on support for community pubs.

Photo of Andrew Percy Andrew Percy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

I note my hon. Friend’s interest as chairman of the all-party beer group. I am happy to work with local authorities to develop community pubs. Listing a pub as an asset of community value gives communities time to bid to buy it should the owner decide to sell. We have supported community buying through the £3.6 million “More than a Pub” programme.

Photo of Graham Evans Graham Evans Conservative, Weaver Vale

Many pubs will have welcomed the news about rural rate relief in the autumn statement, but they still face an immense challenge on business rates. What further steps could the Minister take with local authorities to help ease the burden of business rates on pubs?

Photo of Andrew Percy Andrew Percy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

We are permanently doubling the level of small business rate relief from next year, meaning that 600,000 small businesses will pay no business rates at all. In addition, 17,000 pubs may be eligible for small business rate relief from 1 April next year, depending on their rateable value. Around 13,000 are potentially eligible for 100% relief, compared with some 4,000 now.

Photo of Rob Marris Rob Marris Labour, Wolverhampton South West

Why are business rates on pubs calculated using a method different from that used for other business premises?

Photo of Andrew Percy Andrew Percy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Before the review, we agreed a methodology with the industry through which the revaluations would take place, so that is why that mechanism is used.

Photo of Marcus Fysh Marcus Fysh Conservative, Yeovil

Like other businesses, pubs in my constituency are grateful for the raising of the threshold for the payment of rates, but they can suffer following bizarre Valuation Office Agency reassessment decisions that cancel out the benefit. As local authorities such as Somerset are now highly dependent on growing their rates revenue and on 100% rates retention, how can it be right that businesses face uncertainty from such a source?

Photo of Andrew Percy Andrew Percy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

This is an independent process and it would not be appropriate for Ministers to intervene in it. We have, of course, provided £3.6 billion of transitional relief for those businesses affected by the revaluation, but I refer back to the statistics I gave in an answer a moment ago about the number of businesses that could now qualify for 100% relief.