Pubs are an important community asset across Newbury and our surrounding villages, but I am very aware of the challenges they have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic and as restrictions have loosened. That is why I am pleased that the Government have provided, and will continue to provide, significant support to pubs and the wider sector.
Most recently, in response to the rise of the Omicron variant, the Government provided businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors with one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises. Further support through the Additional Restrictions Grant was made available for businesses most in need. This builds on support provided throughout the pandemic, such as one-off Restart Grants, a reduced VAT rate which was in place until March 2022 and the ongoing UK-wide Recovery Loan Scheme.
In addition, pubs will benefit from a five per cent cut to duty rates on beer and cider as they adapt and recover from the pandemic. This is the biggest cut to these duties in 50 years and almost 100 years, respectively. Alcohol duty rates are also being frozen for 2022-23 and a new temporary business rates relief will see the majority of retail, hospitality and leisure properties receive at least 50 per cent off their business rates bills in 2022-23.
Furthermore, as announced in the 2021 Spending Review, a new small producer relief will be introduced for cidermakers and other producers of lower ABV drinks. This will allow small producers to diversify their product range to other products below 8.5 per cent ABV while still benefitting from reduced rates. The UK Government is also showing its support for the sector in other ways. For example, the Community Renewal Fund which was launched last year provided £150million to help community groups by assets, such as pubs, so that they could continue to serve their local area.
I will also continue my own support for pubs and the wider sector across Newbury and West Berkshire. Last summer, I held a competition to find the best pub in the local area in order to support our excellent pubs and I will continue to work with, assist and promote the sector at every opportunity.