Hospitality chiefs fear closures with business rate rises

Popular pubs and restaurants could disappear from the high street as a result of a business rate rises in April, the Government is being warned.

A group of business leaders has written a letter to Chancellor Philip Hammond pushing him to reconsider the hike that could see some companies hit by a 42 per cent rise in rates.

Bosses at All Bar One, Wagamama, Pizza Express, Greene King, and Slug & Lettuce have asked that the Chancellor to curb the rise in next month’s budget, claiming it will add between £300-500m for the hospitality sector.

The joint letter, according to The Times, states: “Margins in our sector are already under intense pressure, due to the cumulative impact of increased wage, training and regulatory costs and there is a very real danger that these increases will result in a freeze in investment and a scaling back of new openings and job creation.

“We have already seen evidence of outlets closing as a result of the planned increase. Modern pubs, bars and restaurants are valuable social, economic and community assets— they contribute to our thriving tourism sector, high street regeneration and attract and support significant inward investment.

“As such, they are well placed to capitalise on the opportunities presented by Brexit, but they will not be able to do so if hampered by unsustainable additional costs.”

The new rates, which will come into force from April, will see potential a cost in bills rise 12.5 per cent to 42 per cent.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “The great British pub is a national asset, providing thousands of jobs and boosting the economy by £21 billion a year. The method of valuing pubs was agreed by the five major trade bodies and has not changed.

“Following the revaluation, three quarters of properties will see no change or even a fall in their bills, and the small minority of businesses that face an increase will benefit from our £3.6 billion transitional relief scheme.”