I welcome this Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) initiative.
In my view, pubs play a crucial role in the social and economic life of our nation. The British Beer and Pub Association estimate that each pub contributes £80,000 each year to its local economy. I am therefore glad that the pub sector is being supported in a range of ways.
Through the Asset of Community Value scheme, communities can list facilities of local importance, such as pubs. This means that if a pub owner wishes to sell, 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.
Many pubs have also benefited from the Government’s package on business rates for small businesses. The Spring Budget 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.
Tax on beer will only increase by RPI inflation this year, in line with previous forecasts. This follows the removal of the beer duty escalator in 2013 and the unprecedented freeze in beer duty.
There is also greater flexibility on weights and measures, allowing beer and wine to be sold in different sizes. It easier now for pubs to play live music and £350,000 has been provided for the Pub is The Hub initiative and the Plunkett Foundation to help landlords diversify and provide essential services such as village shops and post offices.
The installation of free wi-fi for customers use by many pub landlords is also boosting trade as businessmen and others now can collect their e-mails whilst having a drink. Those few pubs that cannot be bothered to install free wi-fi have only themselves to blame if many customers now decide to go elsewhere.