The Government was today urged by MPs to take immediate action to stem the rate of pub closures.
The report, the result of 28 months work, says: "There are many, many areas of Government activity where some relatively small changes could go a long way to improving marginal pubs' viability."
- The Government should reduce the rate of beer duty and/or VAT on draught beer
- Pubs need better access to funding, finance and advice for diversification.
- Local authorities need to understand and support pubs' needs in the planning process.
- The licensing process needs to be made simpler and cheaper. .
- Rate relief and rateable values need revising to make sure all community pubs can be rewarded for their community contribution through a discount to their rates
- Licensees should be given greater access to funded training to allow them to develop the necessary business skills to diversify successfully.
- Pay-TV broadcaster Sky should support community pubs by lowering its prices to those that have low profitability, but high rateable values.
Nigel Evans, the Conservative MP for Ribble Valley and co-chair of the inquiry, said: "We cannot sit back and let these gems disappear. They are the heart of the community. It is where all community life in some rural areas takes place."
The report was welcomed by the Campaign for Real Ale, whose chief executive Mike Benner said: "The report is a big step forward and has many positive suggestions for Government. I hope it will be the catalyst for a change in approach, which struggling community pubs so desperately need."
By Daniel Thomas
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