THE HUMBLE local pub has taken a real battering in recent years.
With the onset of huge supermarkets offering cut price booze, the smoking ban and the proposed beer tax hike – which as the Derbyshire Times went to press hadn’t been confirmed in the budget – landlords are increasingly concerned about the industry’s stability.
Now one real ale champion is calling on the Government to help keep our locals open.
David Brown, the publican, who runs the Chesterfield Arms on Newbold Road with his son Oliver, as well as another pub in Nottingham, wants authorities to help keep friendly pubs afloat as they struggle to cope with mounting costs.
“We have got mounting energy bills, and the Government keeps increasing duty and tax and increasing business rates and these are all adding to the price of a pint,” he said.
“If we can do something to stop business rates being so high, we can help bring these costs down which will take money off for the customer.”
“You get old people coming to the pub and this is their social life. They can’t keep coming in if the price of a pint keeps going up.”
David wants to see a change in the way pubs are taxed – as their rateable value is based on how much beer they sell – not how much profit landlords make.
It means the most popular pub bosses have to pay the taxman more – even if their pubs themselves aren’t making any extra money.
As David pointed out, selling more beer doesn’t automatically mean making more money – as the busiest pubs have to pay extra bar staff and have more expenses – factors which aren’t taken into account in the tax bill.
He added: “If we get hold of a run down place, then we work our butt off to create a nice environment, the council come and double the valuation. They penalise you for being successful. It’s a tax on success.”
According to David, whose two award-winning pubs specialise in real ales, the business rates are responsible for the recent spate of pub closures and, if they continue, even his successful businesses will be under threat.
“It’s a snowball effect,” he said. “You have these costs mushrooming out and the profits won’t be able to keep up.”
A spokesperson for the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Rates are a real burden and the government need to look carefully at how these are damaging small businesses. It’s important businesses don’t pay any more than they should and they challenge it if their rates don’t reflect their trade.”
David wants people to join him in campaigning for reform to the valuation system to help pubs face a more certain future.
l Are pubs in your area feeling the pinch? Email firstname.lastname@example.org