Fresh nail in pub coffin

The region's pub industry received a fresh “nail in the coffin” after it emerged that scores of landlords were facing huge business rate hikes.Campaigners last night warned that several well-supported inns could be forced to close because of an “astronomical” increase in the rateable value of some businesses.

The region's pub industry received a fresh “nail in the coffin” after it emerged that scores of landlords were facing huge business rate hikes.

Campaigners last night warned that several well-supported inns could be forced to close because of an “astronomical” increase in the rateable value of some businesses.

The revaluation of millions of non-domestic properties across the country has shown that some country pubs in Norfolk are facing a more than 100pc increase in rates.

The government was yesterday accused of punishing successful landlords, who have been hardest hit by the changes, which come into force on April 1.


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Councillors spoke of their anger after it emerged that a rural pub - the Pelican at Tacolneston, near Wymondham - had received a threefold increase in business rates, partly because it had won South Norfolk Council's pub of the year award last year, which showed how popular it was.

The revaluation of 1.7m business properties in England and Wales by government quango, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), is also set to hit shops, restaurants, historic buildings, livestock markets, filling stations, and zoos. However, most workshops and factories will see lower bills.

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But campaigners called for more rate relief for community pubs, which have been hit hard by the economic climate, cheap supermarket alcohol prices, and the smoking ban.

Landlords have also bemoaned pre-recession turnover figures from 2008 that were used in the VOA revaluation, which takes place every five years.

It has led to the rateable value of the Pelican jumping from �5,800 to �19,500, which also means the pub surpasses a mandatory rate relief threshold.

Owner Del Maginn said the opening of a restaurant and last year's community award meant the figures for the village inn had higher business rates than the two pubs he owns in Norwich.

“It is a double whammy and we are going to find it increasingly hard to stay in business. We are still a country pub and the bottom line it that we cannot afford to keep open the way we are.

“Our mainstay is our restaurant, but I will probably have to close it to keep our valuation down to get rate relief. There are pubs closing left, right and centre and it is another nail in the coffin,” he said.

Sue Colman, chairman of the Norwich and Norfolk Licensed Victuallers' Association, added that she knew lots of other landlords receiving similar bills.

“The more successful you are, the more business rates you have to pay. It seems like another pub tax. We can appeal, but it takes two or three years and in the meantime we have to pay the full amount and more pubs will go under,” she said.

The latest revelations, which have uncovered 100pc rateable valuation hikes for the New Inn at Rockland St Mary and the Three Boars, at Spooner Row, has resulted in South Norfolk Council taking the matter up with the House of Commons All Party Parliamentary Beer Group.

Keith Weeks, chairman of the council's rural pubs task group, said: “Pubs are being hit from so many different angles. This is another burden for them and I fear it will be too much for some of them.”

Around 39 pubs are closing every week in Britain, according to most recent figures from the British Beer and Pub Association.

A spokeswoman for the VOA said the revaluation was based on the “rental value and trading potential” of a business.

“The rateable value goes up or down, but the pot of money that is collected remains the same,” she said.

A �2bn transitional relief scheme has been put in place by the government to phase in the changes to rate bills. Businesses can also appeal against their new valuation. For more information, visit www.voa.gov.uk.

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