PUBS in Chard and Ilminster have said more needs to be done to protect the future of the county’s pubs after last week’s Spring Budget.

The owners of the Phoenix Hotel in Chard and The Dolphin in Ilminster have been joined by the head of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce in saying measures introduced on Wednesday do not do enough for businesses.

Three announcements were made to provide relief for some businesses following the rate revaluation last month.

Businesses coming out of small business rate relief have had their increase in payments capped at £50 per month.

Local authorities have been given £300 million in funding to provide relief to help businesses most affected by the revaluation.

Finally, for the 2017/18 tax year, pubs with a rateable value up to £100,000 will be able to claim a £1,000 business rates discount.

Lyn Williams, landlady at The Dolphin in Ilminster, said: “They can not really make things worse for pubs. I know that we have been revalued, but I haven’t seen what the change to rates will be yet.

“I think that more always needs to be done to help local pubs. It is very very difficult and they should make it an even playing field for pubs, clubs and bars.

“Pubs are not about just alcohol anymore.

“They are about having meeting places, somewhere social to meet with friends and have a natter.

“With the beautiful weather we have got at the moment the majority of our customers are sat outside enjoying a coffee or a drink and people are just talking to each other.

“Its so much more than just somewhere to have a drink.”

Graham Barker, co-owner of the Phoenix in Chard, said: “Our business rates have gone up by a lot of money so £1,000 isn’t going to make a lot of difference.

“Ours was set to go up by about £20,000. More needs to be done to support local pubs.

“Pubs are very important for communities.

“People are shutting down and the revaluation will probably cause a lot of pubs a lot of problems.

“We have now got to try and find the money to cover this.”

Dale Edwards, chief executive of Somerset Chamber of Commerce, said: “Somerset Chamber of Commerce welcomes the measures relating to business rates, however we see this as just the start, as a thorough overhaul of the business rates system is needed to make it fit for purpose and fair.”

Tracey Watts, tax partner at Chard-based firm Albert Goodman, said: “Despite the reliefs, the revaluations will still significantly increase the amount paid on rateable properties by many businesses, costs many of those businesses will simply be unable to absorb.

“Furthermore, the softening of the blow for publicans will only delay the increase for another year.”