A report into high streets has been welcomed by trade association UKHospitality as it outlines the crucial impact of pubs on the health of our town centres.
The study by the Housing, Communities and Local Government select committee made a number of recommendations, including reforming business rates, which had been suggested by UKHospitality chief Kate Nicholls.
Other suggestions included an online sales tax, a ‘holiday’ for high street retailers from rates increases which result from investments to improvements in property, and a reduction in business rates for retailers in high streets and town centres to balance competition with out of town shopping.
The select committee also pushed for planning changes and for central and local government support to ensure the high street is sustainable in the future and a vibrant place for pubs to thrive.
Nicholls said: “The report gives due recognition to how crucial the sector is to the high street of the future, as they move away from the shopping-focus of the past.
“Policies to drive growth and regenerate high streets must have hospitality at their core and this needs to be recognised by the government and local authorities.”
She also said that it was “the most radical assessment of the state of the rates regime” and a “great starting point” to address the big issue for the hospitality sector.
She said: “Property tax is the chief cause of the decline of the high street and a reduction in the tax burden would be very welcome. Supplementing rates with an online sales tax, something UKHospitality has pushed for, would provide a significant boost and the Government needs to consider this in the design of the Digital Services Tax.”
She also said that a new sales tax or increase in VAT for retail and hospitality would “need to be pitched significantly lower than the current business rates charge to be helpful”.
“Many businesses are also penalised by a rates hike having made a significant financial investment into their property. A tax holiday would be a good way to remove this disincentive to invest, although the 12-month limit is not long enough.” She concluded.