Rising business rates close four pubs a day
15 February 2017, 07:27
Surging business rates are forcing thousands of pubs to close their doors across England and Wales, with fears that more will follow when rate levels increase in April.
New research from rates and rental specialists CVS suggests a fifth of pubs closed between April 2010 and the end of 2016 - a number totaling 11,443.
That is the equivalent of four pubs every day.
There is now the lowest ever recorded number of pubs in England and Wales, at 43,231.
According to CVS, rising business rates are a big contributor to the difficulties pubs are facing and the problem is only likely to get worse once rates go up again in April of this year.
It is estimated that local pubs are facing a £421m hike in overall business rates over the next five years following a government review of the current system, due to come into effect at the beginning of April.
This review, the first major overhaul for seven years, has led to major changes in the amount of tax many businesses will have to pay as it evaluates their bill based on the amount their property is worth, rather than on how much revenue they make.
It has led to an outcry from many areas of the hospitality sector in particular and has triggered accusations that Chancellor Phillip Hammond is favouring online retailers over Britain's traditional bricks-and-mortar shops and restaurants.
This has been exacerbated by the news that warehouses belonging to many of the largest online giants, including Amazon and Asos, will see cuts to their rates under the new system rather than the rises faced by many of the rest of Britain's businesses.
The CVS research, compiled in association with BBC Radio 4's programme You and Yours, found that central London pubs could see their rates increase by 43%, while those in Manchester may see jumps of around 12%.
CVS chief executive Mark Rigby said the increases are unfair as they are based on outdated valuations.
"There is no doubt about it: anything that keeps operating costs high and not reflective of current circumstances is going to be a factor in terms of the long-term health of the business," he said.
But a government spokesman said that there was help available for those who may struggle with the increases.
"Following the revaluation, three quarters of properties will see no change or even a fall in their bills, and the small minority of businesses that face an increase will benefit from our £3.6bn transitional relief scheme."
(c) Sky News 2017: Rising business rates close four pubs a day