Trade bodies and MPs have called on the chancellor to maintain tax reliefs for the trade in next week's Budget.

 

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has commissioned a report claiming nearly 4,000 pubs a year could close if the £1,000 business rates relief, due to expire in March, is not extended into the next tax year. One-sixth of Conservative MPs have also written to the Chancellor calling for a freeze in beer duty, following the Long Live the Local campaign from Britain's Beer Alliance.

The BBPA says its research, carried out by Europe Economics, shows that an end to rates relief would be disastrous for the trade. It argues that even in an optimistic forecast, with only one-fifth of pubs impacted by rates relief closing, 750 pubs a year would be added to the 1,000 pubs a year Britain is currently losing. 

It also found 50,000 full- and part-time jobs would be put at risk by the potential closures. Rural and community pubs would be hardest hit.Nearly three-quarters of those turn over around £4,000 a week, while a further 30 per cent have turnover in the region of £5,000 a-week. Such pubs would be at risk of closure if rates relief were suspended, the BBPA said.

The BBPA has called on the government to introduce relief to pubs that offer community services as well – such as post offices and event spaces.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: "The number of pubs in the UK is still falling; three close their doors for good each day. They are facing increasing and considerable tax pressures from a range of sources; particularly high beer duty, unfair business rates and VAT.

"This is deeply concerning because pubs are a great British institution and are often the social hub of their community."

"Pubs pay more than £500m in business rates and 2.8 per cent of the total bill, although they only equate to 0.5 per cent of turnover. This important study highlights why we are calling on the Cchancellor to extend the £1,000 rate relief for pubs beyond this year."

The report comes as Britain's Beer Alliance - the group funded by ABInBev, Carlsberg, Heineken, Molson Coors and the BBPA - has pushed for a freeze in beer duty and called on pubs to write to their MPs in support of the move, as part of its Long Live the Local campaign.

One in six Conservative MPs has now written to the chancellor of the exchequer, Phillip Hammond, to scrap the mooted 3.5 per cent hike in beer duty (based on August' Retail Price Index) , which will impact brewers and potentially add 4p to a pint of beer.

Beer duty is 12 times the level of similar taxes in Germany and Spain – and three times the EU average.

Tory MP Nigel Evans said: "Beer duty acts as a tax on our nation's pubs, and has the unintended consequence of driving consumers away from community businesses to cheaper alternatives to buy beer, which is then consumed in the home."