Yvonne Fovargue MP: Support your local pub this Christmas

Britain has so much potential. But right now, we're facing a Tory economic crisis because of 12 years of Tory failure on the economy that’s holding us back.

The Tories crashed the economy and now yet again they’ve loaded the costs on to working people.

People will be asking themselves, ‘Am I and my family better off with the Tories?’ And the answer is no.

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Local businesses are struggling too and one cherished area of British life that is facing a real struggle is the pub.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue pulls a pint at the Strangers Bar in the House of CommonsMakerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue pulls a pint at the Strangers Bar in the House of Commons
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue pulls a pint at the Strangers Bar in the House of Commons

As we approach the Christmas holiday season, many of us will visit our local pub to enjoy a drink with friends, family or work colleagues as part of the annual work’s party!

Pubs are a vital part of our high streets and social fabric in communities throughout the borough, but they face a range of pressures, including the burden of business rates and soaring energy prices.

Even before the pandemic, they were under severe threat, with a 15% fall in their number from 2010 to 2020.

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The Government has proposed reforms to alcohol duties from August 2023 that will reduce rates on draught beer, as well as some lower strength beers.

On VAT, however, it has said it has no plans to reintroduce a reduced rate for hospitality.

It has also said it will no longer be freezing alcohol duties as the previous Chancellor announced in September.

On business rates, meanwhile, the Government has rejected changes to the tax or the basis of valuation.

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I believe it has missed an opportunity for fundamental reform – in the long term, we need to scrap the current system and replace it with one that provides a level playing field and takes more of the burden off small high street businesses such as pubs.

I have also supported calls for a cut to business rates for small firms, paid for by fairly taxing the most profitable global tech companies.

On energy bills, I share concerns that treasured community pubs risk going to the wall because the Government has failed to get to grips with the energy crisis.

Since the start of the year, I have supported calls for action on this issue. Yet it took until September for the Government to set out its support package for business.

This delay means the support will have come too late for too many.

I believe the Government needs to end the uncertainty and outline what longer-term support it will provide from April.

I can assure you that I will continue to support efforts to press the Government on this issue.

In this my last article for the Wigan Observer before Christmas, I want to take this opportunity to wish you a peaceful and joyful Christmas.