BBPA and UKHospitality react to manifesto proposals of the main UK political parties

The two main pub and bar trade associations have published on their respective websites their reactions to the UK-wide political parties’ General Election manifestos.

BBPA:

Having previously produced its own manifesto briefing, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the trade association representing Britain’s brewers and pubs, has reacted as follows to the General Election manifestos published by the major UK-wide political parties:

Conservative:

The manifesto has outlined that the Conservative Party would:

  • Cut business rates for small retail businesses including pubs
  • Establish a £150 million Community Ownership Fund to help purchase community assets including pubs
  • Review alcohol duty to ensure the tax system is supporting British drink producers

Commenting on the manifesto, a British Beer & Pub Association spokesperson said:

“Pubs are the heart of our communities, so the commitment to ease their tax burden is welcome. Three pubs a day close their doors for good due to the tax pressures they face.

“On business rates, pubs pay 2.8% of the total rates bill, despite accounting for just 0.5% of turnover. Reducing rates for pubs is an important step in the right direction. Such reliefs are vital until the fundamentally unfair system is overhauled.

“When it comes to community pubs, what is needed is investment and support. It is important that measures to bolster the rights of individual communities to purchase pubs do not act as a disincentive to invest in or operate a pub business.

“The commitment to review alcohol duty to support British drink producers is very welcome. Beer tax is a particular burden for pubs where 7 out of 10 alcoholic drinks sold are beer, a lower strength British made product. Particularly as we pay 11 times more beer duty than both Spain and Germany.

“A freeze or cut in beer tax at the next budget is the most direct way of helping pubs stay viable. It would also show that Boris Johnson is listening to the 220,000 supporters of the Long Live the Local campaign, calling on the next government to cut beer tax to support local pubs and the communities they serve. With a further 109,000 people also writing to their MP calling on them to support pubs by cutting beer tax, it is imperative the next government recognises the strength of feeling on the matter.”

Labour:

The manifesto has outlined that the Labour Party would:

  • List pubs as Assets of Community Value so community groups could buy local pubs under threat of closing
  • Replace Business Rates with a land value tax
  • Introduce four new bank holidays celebrating the four patron saints’ days
  • Review the evidence on the effect of minimum unit pricing of alcohol
  • Label alcoholic drinks with “clear health warnings”

Commenting on the manifesto, Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:

“The Labour Party has rightly noted in its manifesto that too many pubs are closing.

“When it comes to community pubs, what is needed is investment and support. It is important that measures to bolster the rights of individual communities to purchase pubs do not act as a disincentive to invest in or operate a pub business.

“Given that seven in ten alcoholic drinks sold in a pub are beer, the most direct way of keeping pubs viable remains a cut in beer duty. This would answer the call of the 220,000 people who have signed the Long Live the Local petition calling on the next Chancellor to cut beer duty, supporting local pubs and the communities they serve. A further 109,000 people have also written to their MP calling on them to support pubs by cutting beer tax, showing the strength of feeling on the matter, which the next Government must recognise.

“The current business rates system is hugely unfair on pubs – they pay 2.8% of the business rates bill, despite accounting for just 0.5% of turnover. A complete overhaul of the existing system is required, but at this stage it is not clear if Labour’s land value tax will directly help pubs.

“Additional bank holidays will hopefully be a boost for the pub trade, and could be done in tandem with extended hours to give a further uplift.

“Minimum Unit Pricing should be carefully evaluated before a proposal is considered in England. Particularly as it has only been in place in Scotland for just over a year.

“As an industry, we already clearly label our products with health information including alcohol units and ABV, as well as signposting to Drinkaware where the full guidance on low risk drinking can be found.”

Liberal Democrat:

The manifesto has outlined that the Liberal Democrats would:

  • Review the UK excise duty structure to better support whisky exports
  • Replace Business Rates in England with a Commercial Landowner Levy based solely on the land value of commercial sites rather than their entire capital value
  • Introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol, taking note of the impact of the policy in Scotland

Commenting on the manifesto, Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:

“Any review of UK alcohol taxation must include beer – a lower-strength, British-made product.

“Beer tax is a particular burden for pubs as 7 out of 10 alcoholic drinks sold in them are beer and we pay 11 times more beer duty than Spain or Germany.

“With three pubs a day closing their doors for good, cutting or freezing beer duty as part of a review of UK alcohol taxation is essential. This would answer the call of the 220,000 people who have signed the Long Live the Local petition calling on the next Chancellor to cut beer duty, supporting local pubs and the communities they serve.

“The current business rates system is hugely unfair on pubs – they pay 2.8% of the business rates bill, despite accounting for just 0.5% of turnover. A complete overhaul of the existing system is required, but at this stage it is not clear if the Liberal Democrat’s Commercial Landowner Levy will directly help pubs.

“The impact of Minimum Unit Pricing in Scotland should be carefully evaluated before a proposal is considered in England. Particularly as it has only been in place in Scotland for just over a year.”

UKHospitality:

UKHospitality, the trade association representing the broad hospitality sector – covering everything from bars, coffee shops, contract catering, hotels, nightclubs, visitor attractions and other leisure venues – has reacted as follows to the General Election manifestos published by what many will regard as the two main UK-wide political parties:

Conservative:

The Conservative Party manifesto pledges …. can start to unleash the power of the nation’s hospitality sector, according to the sector’s trade association.

UKHospitality has long campaigned for business rates reform, for measures to increase take home pay and for upskilling the workforce, and so has welcomed Conservative pledges on all three issues.

Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality’s CEO, said:

“Employment costs, property taxes and skills are key challenges for hospitality if it is to add yet more economic value and employment to the UK.

“A fundamental review of business rates is long overdue. A commitment to cut the rates bills is certainly welcome and it is heartening to see pubs and music venues referenced in the context of reliefs – we wait with interest to hear further detail.

“Alongside previously announced NICs changes to improve take home pay, this manifesto also commits to improving the apprenticeship levy system and wider initiatives and funds for upskilling. It seems that our messages have been heard.

“We also welcome the manifesto’s inclusion of community ownership proposals, including for pubs, but the focus must primarily be to create an operating environment that bypasses the need for bail outs for hospitality venues.

“These are all steps in the right direction but there is much more still to be done to empower hospitality yet further as an economic driver of prosperity, jobs and growth.”

Labour:

Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality said:

“We are pleased to see that Labour acknowledge both the importance of hospitality venues, such as pubs, as a community hub, as well as an immigration system that fights against the ongoing skills shortage dilemma.

“The proposed introduction for regulation on short-term lets, is a step in the right direction, although national regulation would be the most effective solution for our sector and consumer safety.

“Business rates continue to be a key focus for UKH and we would be keen to hear more about this from Labour, as well as measures to safeguard the future of Britain’s high streets.”

The complete:

  • Conservative Party manifesto is accessible here
  • Labour Party manifesto is accessible here
  • Liberal Democrat manifesto is accessible here