Publicans fear for the future after tax hikes
THE future of pubs in the island is coming to a head as publicans say they are not being listened to by the States.
Responding to a Budget amendment that, if accepted, would raise alcohol duty by 10%, La Fontaine tenant Dave de Jersey thinks publicans should stand together with one united voice to be better heard.
Tenants from the Red Lion, Drunken Duck and La Fontaine all said the rise would cripple the industry, which is already struggling to cope.
‘I hadn’t thought of it until now but I am so frustrated by this rise – I think we should get a group of us publicans together. United we could have more of a voice and possibly be listened to because this really is going to kill the pub trade.
‘Already less and less people come in because less are drinking and prices have had to go up – 20p here and then 20p there – when people used to come in all night they will just come in for a few or simply drink at home.
‘As if we weren’t hit hard enough already.
‘I’ve got two and half years on my lease left and when that’s up I’m done, there is no future in this for me. Plus we then take all the flack from customers because it looks like we are putting our prices up, but we have to if we are being taxed,’ said Mr de Jersey.
It has been suggested by some that tax rises should target the supermarkets instead.
Drunken Duck tenant Vince Rowley said: ‘I mean [if] they’re going to do that [raise duty] they will kill the pub trade. We are struggling as it is to tell you the truth, it always seems as if the pubs are targeted, look how many have closed down, it is doing us in.
‘They really should be targeting the supermarkets who sell all of this really cheap alcohol. It doesn’t take a genius to work out why all the pubs are closing down but it seems there aren’t many of them making decisions.’
The tenant of the Red Lion, Stephen Hill, did not think the tax rise was a move in the right direction: ‘Ask managers, tenants and landlords everywhere and see what their reaction is to this rise. I think there should only be legislation when there is a general consensus. It should be down to a people’s vote as to what we pay taxes on, this is not a move in the right direction at all.’
Guernsey has already lost pubs, including The Helmsman, St Saviour’s Tavern, Salerie Inn, The Hangman’s, Caves de Bordeaux, West End Bar, Beehive, Rohais Inn and the Duke’s Arms.
The Budget, which will be debated from Tuesday, proposes a 5% duty rise.
But Deputy Jennifer Merrett will lead an amendment which proposes a series of tax hike options to raise £3.8m. to fund new services.
The options include a further 5% on alcohol to raise another £700,000.
Another idea is to increase the ratio at which personal allowances and withdrawable deductions are received, from £1 in every £5 above the limit, to £1 in every £4.
A further option is to re-allocate funds that have been set aside for the Capital Reserve, Transformation & Transition Fund, and the Participatory Budgeting Fund.