Business rates hike causes 15 pubs a week to 'disappear' across England and Wales

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Around 15 pubs a week are disappearing across England and Wales and punters could face pricier pints in the ones that remain after the industry was clobbered by a £204 million rise in business rates this year.

New figures show that 390 pubs were either closed, had been converted or demolished between the beginning of April and the end of September as the industry felt the force of Government tax changes.

Business rates were updated on April 1 to take into account movements in property prices over the last seven years.

As a result, the levy on pubs has climbed 14% to £1.6 billion for the next five years, according to business rents and rates specialist CVS.

The hike is part of a triple-whammy blow on the British pub industry, which is facing inflationary increases from April 2018 and the removal of a yearly £1,000 business rates discount.

The research comes as MPs gear up for a parliamentary debate this Tuesday on how tax is impacting the beer and pubs sector.

Mark Rigby, chief executive of CVS, has warned that drinks could become more expensive for punters if pubs are forced to pass down the extra costs.

He said: "One in five pubs closed during the last tax regime leaving the lowest ever number of pubs.

"Whilst 15 pubs a week since the tax changes have been lost, the reality is that number is considerably higher as empty pubs still pay rates after a three months exemption following closure.

"The Chancellor must be bold within his upcoming Budget next month giving pubs a helping hand through an unprecedented stimulus of freezing rate rises in April 2018 and protecting the pub discount.

"Otherwise, increased operating costs will have to be passed onto customers, already squeezed by inflation, through higher prices at the bar."

As part of the revaluation, companies have been offered transitional relief so any big jump in bills are phased in slowly over a five-year period.

The cap for 2018/19 is 7.5% plus inflation for small properties, 17.5% plus inflation for medium properties and 32% plus inflation for large properties.

Business rates are on course to increase by 3.9% in line with September's Retail Price Index (RPI) come April next year.

However, 20,514 pubs across England and Wales will face above inflation rises totalling £59.7 million in 2018 - an average increase of £2,909 per pub.

Research shows that 6,696 small pubs will have to endure an inflation busting rise, with 12,818 medium-sized pubs and 1,000 large pubs facing the same challenge.