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Wed 8th Mar 2017 - Chancellor offers 90% of pubs a £1,000 business rates discount
Chancellor offers 90% of pubs a £1,000 business rates discount: Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has offered a sector-specific £1,000 discount on pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 to help protect pubs against increased business rates – the discount will be available to 90% of all pubs. Hammond also promised any business coming out of small business rate relief will have an additional cap of £50 per month for the first year and he will make available a £300m fund for local authorities to target individual cases in their local areas and respond flexibly for those facing significant increases. Association of Licensed Multiple Retailer (ALMR) chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “It is very encouraging to see the government acknowledges and backs the valuable work being carried out by the UK’s hardworking pubs, bars and restaurants. Sector-specific relief will help those businesses hardest hit by the revaluation. This much-needed government support will save the sector over £24m and will help safeguard investment and jobs. We are pleased to see the government acknowledge the issue and act positively to support a crucial growth champion and a sector with turnover of £60bn employing over 1.5 million. The ALMR has been spearheading the campaign for business rates reform for a few years and we have been incredibly vocal on this issue over the past few months. The ALMR has been actively campaigning non-stop since September and helped coordinate a campaign as the voice of the sector at key meetings with Ministers and MPs. The ALMR’s Budget campaign focused on securing immediate support for those businesses hardest hit and facing the biggest increases and this is a good first step on the road to permanent reform. The next step is for the government to instigate the long term, root and branch reform that is needed for pubs and bars and the ALMR is keen to work closely with them to achieve this.” Hammond also promised to look at how the government taxes digital businesses. “We have to find a better way of taxing the digital part of the economy,” he said. A soft drinks levy was confirmed at 18p and 24p per litre but the product reformulation means the tax yield will be reduced. There were no changes to previously planned increases in duties on alcohol means inflation only increases for beer, wine and spirits. A new minimum excise duty on cigarettes will be introduced at £7.35. There will be a rise in National Insurance contributions for self-employed by 1% to 10% from April 2018 and 11% in 2019. Directors shareholder tax advantage will be halved from April 2018 – this currently allows directors and investors to take out £5,000 dividend tax free. Peter Brunt, Colliers International hotels director, welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement of a £1,000 discount on business rate bills for all pubs with rateable value of less than £100,000 – which amounts to around 90% of all pubs. He added though: “While the Chancellor’s announcement is welcome as a measure across the pub sector it is relatively ‘small beer’ for those publicans who have found that the rates cost to them has doubled. Successful operators who have taken a poorly performing site and through their own entrepreneurial endeavours transformed it into a thriving business bringing employment and other benefits to their community will be lukewarm in their appreciation.”

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