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MPs demand action on rates & beer duty

Added: Thursday, February 27th 2020

Olde Fighting Cocks
The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) are backing a report published by the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group which highlights 'pubs’ potential in spearheading high street revival and delivering wide-ranging policy initiatives', details of which can be found in the press release below. SIBA Chief Executive James Calder commented:

“Quality community pubs and independent breweries are an integral part of our communities and this inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group demonstrates the vital role they play in our local economies and social wellbeing. 
“The report comes at a key time where the Government has the opportunity to turbocharge our brewing and pub sector so their full potential can be realised. In the Budget next month the Chancellor should review our high Beer Duty rates and radically reform Business Rates to ensure that pubs and small independent breweries have the support they need to flourish and remain at the heart of our communities.” 
All Party Parliamentary Beer Group Press Release:

MPs call on Government to see pubs as solution not problem
A report published today by Parliament’s largest cross-party issue group calls emphatically for the Government to wake up to the potential of pubs in boosting Britain’s economic and social wellbeing.
Ahead of the Budget, the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group urges policy makers to understand pubs’ potential in spearheading high street revival and delivering wide-ranging policy initiatives. The report calls for a fundamental review of business rates and a reduction in beer duty to release this potential for the sake of jobs, tourism and the cultural and social enrichment of Britons.
Launching the report, the group’s Chair, Mike Wood MP (Con, Dudley South) said: “As government charts a new course for national wellbeing, it’s time to wake up to the widespread initiatives pubs can help deliver.” 
“During this Inquiry we heard how well-trained licensees are playing an unsung role in supporting the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities; pubs’ investments are regenerating employment and enterprise prospects around the country showing they can be a critical anchor in bringing left behind communities back to life. But if we’re to take full advantage of all that the nation’s pubs offer as a force for good, we must first tackle their disproportionate tax bills.”
Inquiry panellist and Labour peer, Lord Roy Kennedy, explained: “Pubs are one of the few remaining places where strangers can rub shoulders and trade opinions – a precious asset in an increasingly polarised society. They are also one of the unsung props of the UK’s social care system; helping tackle loneliness, providing meals for the elderly, coffee clubs for young mothers, and answering the needs of dementia carers.”  
“We have an extraordinary community resource in our pubs: as community hubs, sports clubs, creative incubators, tourist attractions, fundraisers and as the ‘third place‘ in people’s lives.  They’re the UK’s real ‘social networks’ but are paying 34% of their turnover in tax, compared to Facebook’s reported 1.7%. If government is looking for ways to boost hard hit communities and revive national wellbeing, our message is clear: act now to unleash pubs’ potential.”
“As our inquiry learnt, pubs are paying more in tax per pound of turnover than any other outlet on the high street and any other sector of the economy. These costs are then being compounded by competition from lower priced alcohol from supermarkets.”
Among its principal recommendations, the report calls for:
  • A review of business rates to consider how best to shift the burden of tax away from property-based businesses.
  • Pending the governments’ fundamental review of business rates, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) must be better resourced to understand pubs’ business models with additional resource dedicated to the appeals process until the current logjam has been cleared.
  • All pubs to be able to claim the first £52k in rate relief proposed for smaller pubs.
  • Government to seize the opportunity provided by Brexit to review both intent and impact of duty.  The UK’s brewers are a leading manufacturing success story and its pubs are a crucial part of British culture, tourism and society.  Government should assess tax and duty in a broad context including impacts on employment, stimulus for home grown products, for low carbon products and health considerations including responsible drinking and personal wellbeing. 
  • Local authorities to understand pubs’ potential in regenerating high streets and communities, and to build mutually beneficial partnerships to maximise benefits.
  • The pubs sector and government to address outdated notions of employment possibilities under the auspices of the new Tourism Sector Deal.
 Pictured top: Ye Old Fighting Cocks, St Albans, Britain's oldest pub, forced to close two days a week to save costs as a resultr of punitive levels of business rates

Commenting on the release of the report “Unlocking Pubs’ Potential” by the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, Nik Antona, CAMRA National Chairman said: 

“It’s great to see a report come out of Parliament that is so unashamedly positive about the contribution of pubs to our economy and society. Pubs are a force for good and we absolutely echo the calls for the Chancellor to ensure this continues to be the case by cutting the tax burden on our beloved locals – through beer duty and business rates.  

“At CAMRA we believe that the best way to reduce beer duty is to introduce a lower rate of tax on draught beer – which is sold on tap, in pubs. Coupled with fundamental reform of business rates, this will encourage consumption of alcohol in a supervised setting, bring investment and employment to high streets and village centres, and allow everyone to take advantage of the social and wellbeing benefits of thriving community pubs.”