I am committed to ensuring that pubs retain their important place at the centre of many of our communities.
In 2013, the Government took the decision to end the beer duty escalator, and beer duty has been frozen or cut several times since then. Duty on spirits has been frozen over the past two years. I have spoken with colleagues at the Treasury, who assure me that as a result of these changes, a typical pint is cheaper than it would have been had these measures not been introduced. The effect of inflation means that, in real terms, beer duty has been cut every time that it has been frozen over the past several years. Even in nominal terms, beer duty is now lower than it was in 2012.
Following the announcement made in the Queen’s Speech that alcohol duty will be reviewed, I am confident that that the Government will continue to support pubs and will keep costs low for consumers. I have ensured my colleagues are aware of the points you raise and reminded them of the importance of local pubs in our communities.
In addition to decisions about alcohol duty, a significant way in which the Government has been supporting pubs is through reform of the business rates. You may be interested to know that a one-third discount to business rates for pubs and bars with a rateable values below £51,000 was introduced in 2018 and has now been increased to a 50 per cent discount for 2020-21. On top of this, as many as 18,000 pubs are expected to benefit from the new Pubs Relief set to be introduced this April, which will take £1,000 off the business rates bills of qualifying small pubs.
During the debate, the Minister went on to say: "Recent data from the Official for National Statistics is more encouraging, showing that the number of pubs in the country has increased for the first time in a decade. The number of pubs employing fewer than 10 people also grew, showing that the revival extends beyond the big chains. I appreciate that it is early days, and we are certainly not claiming that we have reversed all the challenges facing the pub trade, but it is good to see data showing that the cumulative impact of the changes we are making is positive. In fact, pub revenue is at its highest level since 2010, and employment is at a high not reached since 2001. Those are fantastic results for the sector and show that the pub remains a vital part of modern Britain."
The Treasury Minister confirmed that the above measures, along with the review of alcohol duty, will help to ensure that pubs retain their important place at the centre of many of our communities.