Sadly, few licensees will have much to toast following the Philip Hammonds first – and last – Autumn Statement. Aside from a freeze on beer duty, the most notable inclusions in the announcement were incentives for small businesses and good news for rural rates relief.

Those pubs located in rural areas will benefit from the rural rate relief being doubled to 100 per cent from April 1st 2017 and should immediately seek guidance from rating experts in order to ensure they qualify.

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James Ward

James Ward, of Harris Lamb’s Licensing Rating team, said: “While there is some solace to be taken from the announcements, the help for rural sites is not as clear-cut as it might seem: it is limited to small communities where the pub is the only one servicing the village.

“According to the old rules, if the business is within a rural area with a population below 3,000, then the rates relief may be available. The rateable Value threshold for the only pub in a village is £12,500, and councils are at liberty to top up the existing mandatory 50 per cent relief to 100 per cent, or give discretionary relief to other rural retail businesses with an RV of under £16,500.

“In short, as long as a pub company or multi-operator doesn’t own another pub in the same parish, it is eligible to apply for Rural rates Relief. It’s not as straight forward as it seems and, combined with the 2017 revaluation, licensees would be best advised to seek professional guidance from an experienced Licensing Rates team such as ourselves to ensure they qualify and follow the application process correctly in time for the April 1st implementation date,” he added.

For advice, contact Harris Lamb’s Licensing Rating team on 0115 947 6236 or on