Call for business rate and beer duty reform

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Ahead of Wednesday’s budget the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for Chancellor George Osborne to place business growth at the heart of government policy.

In a letter to the Chancellor, the Chamber has urged the government to rethink business rates, recommending the reform of the system

A recent report from the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee on Retail also indicates that business rates are a stifling influence on the high street.

Chamber head of policy Steven Leigh said: “We have seen an encouraging upturn in both business performance and confidence over the last year, and many of the signs are positive. “However, the government should accelerate their commitment to the serious business of rebalancing our economy towards manufacturing and international trade.”

“It will be tempting over the coming year for politicians of all parties to turn their attention to electioneering ahead of the election in May 2015.

“However, we firmly believe that now is the time for Mr Osborne to strongly reinforce all initiatives to promote business in order to achieve sustainable growth in our economy.

“Further investment in export support, coupled with a fundamental review of business rates and more attractive Capital Allowances to promote business expansion would signal a real commitment by government to setting Britain firmly back on the road to economic prosperity.”

The Chamber is joined by calls from pubs and breweries in Calderdale to reduce the amount of duty paid on a pint of beer.

Brewers and politicians from Calderdale recently went down to London to make their case for a reduction in beer duty which is currently set at 57 pence per pint

Sue Cooper, co-founder of Little Valley brewery, Mytholmroyd, said: “We want the government to know the impact that high levels of beer duty has on the industry.

“The duty paid doesn’t include all of our production costs, so the margins for British brewers are tiny in comparison to somewhere like Germany where they are paying five pence in the pint.”

The level of taxation has been cited as major contributing factor to the decline in pubs across the UK.

“It’s so much cheaper to buy alcohol in a supermarket, so central government need to make it affordable for people to go to a local pub and socialise again,” said councillor James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley).

“It’s not just about the drinking ,it’s about the sense of community you get with a good local pub.

“They’re a good place to have a chat and it beats sitting at home in front of the TV.”

Campaigners said the duty makes it difficult for small brewers and pubs to compete with supermarkets.

“The duty increases over the past few years have been horrendous,” said Simon Trapp, owner of Slightly Foxed Brewing Company at Sowerby Bridge,

“If a person has £30 a week to spend on beer, they aren’t going to suddenly start spending £40 because the duty’s gone up.”