Findlay: ‘Stop sucking pubs dry’

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pubs independent rent, Tax, Alcoholic beverage, Public house, Government

Findlay: lay off pubs
Findlay: lay off pubs
The Government needs to help the pub and brewing industries rather than sucking them dry, argued Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston’s and chairman of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), last week.

Speaking at the annual BBPA dinner in London last week, he said that policymakers need to appreciate how the pub trade can contribute to the economy, provide employment and strengthen communities. He also called for a cut in red tape and a fairer tax burden on beer and pubs.

He admitted that progress was being made between the industry and the Government, with the message that most pubs are run by responsible licensees “getting through”. He said: “At a re-cent meeting with the prime minister, he reiterated to me his Government’s commitment to support beer and pubs, and demonstrated that he understands the vital contribution that many pubs make to local communities.”

He also urged the Government to look at its taxation policy, in particular the impact of the duty escalator.

“Pubs are being sucked dry by the Treasury; whatever the challenges the Treasury faces in balancing its books, we must continue to call for the escalator to be scrapped,” he said. “British beer taxes are among the highest in Europe, and are a real threat.”

But he acknowledged that the trade had suffered a blow in its relationship with the Government as the tenanted and leased operators came in for a “stinging rebuke” from the Business Innovation & Skills Committee (BISC) last month.

“The committee placed the blame for pub failures squarely on landlords rather than the economy, regulation and taxation, and in considering PIRRS [Pubs Independent Rent Review Scheme] and the new code of conduct found fault
rather than merit in what the industry has done.

“If tenanted and leased operators fail to live by the Framework Code of Practice that would be unacceptable. There is evidence that the code is working. But we must not be reticent in pointing out the positive changes that have been made, and the benefits of the traditional tenanted model. And we must engage and be constructive in reviewing the BISC recommendations.”

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