Landlord raises rates bill fears

Snowdrop pub, Lewes, massive increase in rates.'Tony (left) and Dominic SUS-170315-230746008
Snowdrop pub, Lewes, massive increase in rates.'Tony (left) and Dominic SUS-170315-230746008

A Lewes landlord has raised concerns for his pub’s future as its business rates valuation looks set to more than double.

Tony Leonard, who runs the Snowdrop Inn in South Street, says the rateable value of his pub will rise from £40,000 to £82,250, when national changes come into force on April 1.

Although the increase to the pub’s rates bill are expected to be staggered across the next five years – and may not ever be double its current annual bill of £19,800 – Mr Leonard says he fears the increase could have a major impact.

Mr Leonard said: “This combined with the increased duty on alcohol will put us under a lot of pressure.

“My first step is to try and challenge this valuation [with the Valuation Office Agency (VOA)] but we can’t do that until the beginning of April. It’s not an easy thing to do though.”

During last week’s Budget announcement Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that pubs with a rateable value of up to £100,000 will be able to claim a £1,000 rates discount for one year.

Mr Leonard said: “This discount will make absolutely no difference to pubs like ours and shows a complete lack of understanding for small business. This hike is massive slap in the face to local pubs and a disaster for the communities we serve and the £1,000 discount is a pathetic joke.” ”

The measure has also been criticised by Liberal Democrat candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell. She said “The Conservatives knew this hike was coming and promised support for small businesses and pubs in the budget, but a discount of £1,000 will make little impact on rates increases of over £40,000. This move could destroy the towns and villages of Lewes, with worries across not just pubs but our treasured small businesses and independent shops as well.”

Speaking after the Budget, Lewes MP Maria Caulfield said: “As a member of CAMRA I am very supportive of our local pubs and am pleased that the chancellor recognised the importance of these for our local community in the Budget yesterday. Up until then they were facing huge rises as a result of the regular independent review of rates.

She added: “Business rates ultimately need a complete overhaul as the High Street is carrying an unfair tax burden when the nature of business has changed.”