Retailers and pubs call on government to review rates

Claire Dodd

Claire Dodd

24 January 2017

The government’s pledge to take a new ‘active’ focus on developing skills and support for businesses should also include a review of business rates and soft skills, according to the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR).

Yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May revealed the new industrial strategy green paper which promises the government will take a more direct role in boosting the post-Brexit UK economy.

The 10-point plan includes: a pledge to invest in science, research, and innovation; to develop skills; to upgrade infrastructure; to support businesses to start and grow; to improve government procurement; to encourage trade and inward investment; to deliver affordable energy and clean growth; to cultivate world-leading sectors; to drive growth across the whole country; and to create the right institutions to bring together sectors and places.

In delivering the plan, May said: "Underpinning this strategy is a new approach to government, not just stepping back and leaving business to get on with the job, but stepping up to a new, active role that backs business and ensures more people in all corners of the country share in the benefits of its success. This active government will build on Britain's strategic strengths and tackle our underlying weaknesses, like low productivity."

However, licensed trade bodies including the ALMR have asked the government to remove obstacles, such as rates, that currently stop businesses from thriving.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: 'A strategy that supports burgeoning businesses, provides them with access to finance, and allows them to flourish is crucial. Much of this can be achieved by unburdening employers through a rethink of a business rates system that currently penalises success and deters growth.'

Nicholls also called for uniformity on licensing across local authorities, to help streamline operations for businesses that have multiple sites spread throughout the country.

Brigid Simmonds, British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive, said: 'I very much welcome the strategy, and its focus on skills and investment. With the right tax policies, in particular a cut in beer duty and a fairer business rates regime, there is great potential for investment that boosts beer exports, as well as the pub estate, with huge potential benefits for our tourism industry.

'The brewing industry and the great British pub already contribute £23bn to the UK economy and support 900,000 jobs, and we can be an engine for future growth. We look forward to contributing to the consultation and working with government and other partners to maximise the opportunities for our world-leading UK brewers.'

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