Pubs are at the heart of our local communities across North Warwickshire and Bedworth. We have 85 pubs in our community, supporting 1569 jobs. I am a personal supporter of CAMRA and have met their members and representatives on a number of occasions. I am also a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Real Ale.
Therefore, I recognise the crucial role that pubs play in the social and economic life of our nation, as well in helping to promote responsible drinking. However, too many are being forced to close due to close due to a perfect storm of costs – tax, rates, rents, staff costs and the off trade, which is why I am encouraged by the support which the Government has made available to pubs.
Through the Asset of Community Value scheme, communities can list facilities of local importance, including pubs. This means that if a pub owner wishes to sell up, the community has six months to come up with a plan and funding in order to try to save it. I am glad that there are now around 2,000 pubs across England listed as assets of community value.
I am pleased that the £3.6 million 'More than a Pub: The Community Business Support Programme', launched in 2016, is helping to support communities across England to own their local pub. On top of this, the Government continues to support the work of the Pub is The Hub initiative to help landlords diversify and provide essential services, such as village shops and post offices, in order to improve the sustainability of their pub.
To further support pubs, the Chancellor announced in the Autumn Budget 2018 a freeze on beer, cider, and spirit duties, a decision which I welcome. The Spring Budget 2017 also provided a £1,000 discount on business rates bills in 2017 for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 - 90 per cent of pubs in England - and I was pleased to see this extended in the Autumn Budget 2017 for a further year, through to March 2019. In addition, a one-third discount to business rates for pubs and bars with a rateable values below £51,000 was introduced in 2018.