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Non-Domestic Rates: Licensed Premises

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 15 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer of 28 October 2008, Official Report, columns 887-88W, on non-domestic rates: valuation, what steps (a) her Department and (b) the Valuation Office Agency has taken to raise awareness amongst the licensees of licensed premises of the change of policy on material changes of circumstances arising from the prohibition of smoking on licensed premises. (245965)

On 11 November 2008 I personally wrote to the main trade associations representing public house operators and occupiers to help ensure that their members are clear about the change in approach to the rating assessments for pubs following the introduction of the smoking ban.

The chief executive's office of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) was in direct contact concerning this issue with representatives of those same trade associations back in June—very shortly after receipt of the legal advice which prompted the change of view on the validity of proposals to reduce rating assessments on account of the ban.

The VOA was in regular contact with the various representatives and in particular the rating advisor to the British Beer and Pub Association throughout the summer.

Staff in VOA local offices made every effort to contact those pubs who had made proposals earlier on, which were then treated as invalid, to tell them about the change of view. Various members of staff made presentations to local rating forums/trade groups in order to heighten awareness.

An article has recently been published in the Morning Advertiser (a widely read licensed trade magazine)—primarily this provides answers to questions about the 2010 rating revaluation, but also the opportunity was taken to further clarify the smoking ban issue.