Vince Cable joined Kelly-Marie Blundell at Liberal Democrat Conference in Bournemouth this week to challenge devastating business rate changes on small high street businesses and pubs. The paper calls for pub rate increases to be capped by 12.5% as they are in Scotland.
Pubs in Lewes have been hit by vast increases in rates, as the Conservatives make changes to rateable values. Some pubs in the town centre of Lewes have seen increases of up to 200%. Kelly-Marie Blundell, who worked with Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and the Local Government Association to write the policy, has challenged the proposals since meeting with landlords in Lewes.
On stage, Kelly-Marie Blundell called for a business rates system fit for the 21 st century, saying; “Pubs are being savaged by the new system, and many fear that they may have to close across Lewes. They are a valuable asset to our communities and we must defend them against these tax rises.
“On top of that, small businesses on the high street are also under threat. More must be done to keep the high streets of Lewes, Seaford, Polegate and Newhaven thriving with small businesses.”
“The Conservatives are losing support from small businesses. It's time someone stood up for them.”
Sir Vince Cable MP commented; “Many pub owners are struggling to cope with huge hikes to their business rates, with some having to lay off staff or even close their doors altogether.
“This cap would protect local pubs from crippling increases to their tax bills.
“Ministers need to get a grip and give struggling business owners the help they need before it’s
Tony Leonard, landlord of the Snowdrop Inn in Lewes raised concerns about rateable value earlier
"The new pub ratings valuations are in danger of destroying the best pubs in the UK. An immediate cap on pub rate rises is absolutely essential if we are not going to see the widespread destruction of these essential independent businesses, a massive loss of jobs and the knock-on economic effects on the numerous local producers we support.
The ratings valuation of the Snowdrop Inn has increased from £40,000 in 2007, before the credit crunch, to £82,250 in 2017, an increase of 106 per cent. This means that the government believes that the rental value of the property as a pub has more than doubled in that time, while neighbouring pubs have stayed the same or even been reduced.
This level of increase, at a time of rapidly rising costs and widespread predictions of a drop in drink and food sales across the hospitality industry, is simply unsustainable and will result in swathes of independent pub closures if it goes unchallenged.”