Thank you for contacting me about support for pubs.
Pubs up and down the country play a vital role not only in the economy but in our local areas, supporting a sense of community and pride of place. After nearly two years of difficulties as a result of the pandemic, I am glad that pubs have returned to business as usual.
The Government is committed to supporting our pubs and I welcome the fact that the Government’s long-term strategy for the hospitality sector includes an extension to pavement licences, making it easier and cheaper for pubs, restaurants and cafes to continue to make outdoor dining a reality with seating, tables and street stalls to serve food and drinks. This will be implemented through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.
What's more, the Autumn Budget 2021 confirmed that duty rates on beer, cider, wine and spirits will be frozen for another year, a move which will save consumers £3 billion over the next five years. Duty rates on draught beer and cider will be cut by 5 per cent, taking 3p off a pint and further supporting pubs. Under a new temporary business rates relief, the majority of retail, hospitality and leisure properties will see at least 50 per cent off their business rates bills in 2022-23.
More broadly, I was glad to see the announcement in the Autumn Budget 2021 that, following a review, the alcohol duty regime is to undergo a major simplification. The old system was outdated system that set rates based on historical anomalies, and a new regime will be fairer to both consumers and producers, and promote product innovation in response to evolving consumer tastes.
Funding is also helping make it easier for community groups to protect and take over local assets, like pubs, which are at risk of loss without community intervention. The £150 million Community Ownership Fund allows community groups to buy assets so that they can continue to serve their local area. I am aware that rural pubs were among the local assets allocated funding in the scheme's first round, giving them a new lease of life for generations to come.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.