Guest Column: We must ensure the great British pub doesn’t die out

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

The pub sector in the UK supports 900,000 jobs, generates £23 billion in economic value and provides £13 billion in tax revenues.

In addition, 30 million adults visit the pub every month, they are at the heart of the UK’s communities.

However, they continue to be under severe threat and we must do what we can to support them.

Pub closures and Government support for community pubs is very important.

The Campaign for Real Ale has raised concerns about taxation on beer and pubs.

Tax rises will have cost pubs around £125 million last year.

I believe this increase was the wrong decision and posed a risk to pubs, particularly coming alongside increasing inflation and higher business rates.

The Government announced in November 2017 that it would be extending a £1,000 discount for pubs on its business rates.

However, I am concerned that this represents only a temporary respite rather than long-term support.

Furthermore, since the business rates revaluation in April 2017, around two pubs a day have been demolished or converted to other uses.

I believe a fundamental review of business rates is needed to stop small businesses from facing unmanageable increases.

The Government must set up a national review of local pubs to examine the reasons for their decline, as well as establishing a joint taskforce that will consider pubs’ future sustainability.

Labour is committed to giving communities more power to shape their town centres, including by strengthening powers to protect pubs.

I will continue to call for pubs to be given the support that is necessary for them to thrive and grow.