British Pubs

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:00 am on 23rd February 2010.

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Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Conservative, Ribble Valley 11:00 am, 23rd February 2010

Some publicans did not even bother putting the price up. They took the hit, for the reason mentioned by my hon. Friend. Furthermore, around this time of the year, wholesalers often look at their pricing and start to put up prices for their customers. That means that a publican might have had to reproduce lists twice at a busy time of year. A lot of pubs have not yet put up prices and are waiting to see what their suppliers are going to do. Clearly, it was an awkward situation for them.

Fifthly, business rates are too high. Irene Nuttall is paying £4,617, and although there is a small amount of business rate relief, for her it amounts to only £182, which would hardly contribute to the survival of some small pubs. Sixthly, council tax must be paid on top of that sum for the residential part of the property. Point number seven is that she has a TV in her own flat and a TV downstairs, so she needs two licences for the BBC, even though both sets are in the same building. Eighthly, the water rates cost several hundreds of pounds.

The ninth point concerns Sky TV. The Minister knows that there have been problems with Sky TV-the Government have promised to look at that, but we have seen nothing yet. Irene Nuttall's pub is relatively small, and she said, "Guess how much I pay for Sky TV?" My mind went wandering, and I said, "£120? £150? £240?" No-it costs £594 a month to have Sky Sports in a relatively small pub. That is based on rateable value. As we know, in a lot of villages and towns, a pub's rateable value could be extremely high, but the number of people in the pub at any one time might be relatively small. All the profit that a pub makes by getting people in who are attracted by the magnet of Sky Sports is completely lost as a result of the £594 charge. Something desperately needs to be done about the pricing of Sky TV. It is an attractive venture for pubs wishing to get people through the door, but surely they should not be clobbered to such an extent.

The 10th point is the building insurance of £1,500, which must be paid, even though Irene Nuttall does not own the building. Electricity is the 11th point and costs £400 a month. The gas bill is £850 a quarter, and bank charges of £90 a month are charged for paying money in, taking money out and direct debits. It all adds up, and there are staff to pay on top of that. She finished by saying, "I wonder why I'm doing it." Considering all the pressures on one pub, I think exactly the same thing. She clearly loves the business in which she operates, otherwise she simply would not do it.

Banks have proven to be unco-operative. One landlord I spoke to wished to borrow more money due to investments that he had made in his restaurant and pub trade. The bank said no, then charged a huge amount for the loan that the landlord already has, including an interest rate insurance fee-which I had never heard of before-to insure against fluctuations in the interest rate. It costs him a fortune to insure against those fluctuations. The bank then needed to value the property, and it charged him for that. It wanted his accounts to be audited by its officials, and it charged him for that service. Woe betide him if any cheques are returned, as there are swingeing penalties to be paid. One might think that the bank was working hard to give this landlord the little nudge that he needs to go bust. A number of pubs also have accountancy fees to pay, as well as a music licence if they have music.

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David Callan
Posted on 24 Feb 2010 11:40 am (Report this annotation)

The TV License is a ridiculous burdon the already highly taxed UK citizens should not have to pay. The BBC should enjoy the very same commercial pressures that ALL other companies have to. The BBC offer nothing by way of uniqueness or superior quality regardless of whatever counter assertions they throw back. Do the UK tax payers know how easy it is for their money to support BBC program reception in the USA? I am not referring to BBC America either. If you care to watch from here (in the USA) it will very quickly and forcefully become apparrent that the BBC have nothing positive to say about the UK, the country who supports them. They never say anything about how they actually go about collecting the tax because if they showed detector vans and phoney cops harassing OAPs which they do (no argument to the contrary) on USA channels I can say for certain their viewing stats would decline to almost nil and programs be likely sent back with a message attached.