Devon’s pubs are the best. They bring local people together at the heart of their communities over delicious drinks (cider please) and proper pub grub.

Regular readers will know that I often speak about the positive impact our hospitality businesses – including pubs – have on Devon’s local communities.

Last week, I met with the Chancellor ahead of the Spring Budget. I not only made the case for more funding to resurface and repair Devon’s roads – a common grumble I hear on the doorstep – but also for more support for our hospitality industry.

As chair of the cross-party group in Parliament for hospitality and tourism (an unpaid role), I want the government to continue its strong record of industry support by taking three actions: implementing a 3% cap to the increase in the large property business rates multiplier; introducing a cut in the lower rate of employers' NICs to 10%; and permanently reducing the VAT rate on hospitality businesses to 12.5%. These measures would build on the 75% business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure firms that the government has extended to 2025 – a real boost for the high street.

A successful hospitality industry is not simply a ‘nice to have’. In East Devon, pubs, restaurants, cafés, hotels, B&Bs, and tourist attractions support around 6,000 jobs. Throughout my time as MP, I have supported these businesses through challenging periods – whether it be the pubs and cafés on Exmouth’s Strand successfully fighting rip-off rent increases from East Devon District Council to use outdoor space or providing advice on discretionary grants and furlough when businesses shut during the pandemic.

During some downtime recently, I caught up with the landlords of The Kingfisher in Colyton, Mark and Lucy, and I also swung by The Sidmouth Arms in Upottery, run by its passionate landlord Martin. These pubs are worth supporting if you do happen to be passing through.

Finally, if you would like to speak to me at a surgery, please do get in touch. I hold weekly surgery sessions, often at my constituency office in Exmouth and at Kennaway House in Sidmouth.