Dawn Hopkins, who operates the Rose and Ketts Tavern pubs in Norwich, as well as the Norwich Bear Brewing Company, was invited to the event by shadow small business minister, Toby Perkins MP.
Opposition leader Ed Miliband, shadow chancellor Ed Balls and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna all spoke at the event, which Labour held to enforce its commitment to small business.
Hopkins was at the forefront of the recent City of Ale festival in Norwich, during which she hosted a political debate around pubs and brewing, attended by treasury secretary, Chloe Smith MP.
Perkins, who was also invited to the debate, asked Hopkins to attend the business reception because of her work for pubs and small business in Norwich.
She also has a close relationship with Balls, who has enjoyed a pint of Norwich Bear ale in the Rose, and is a season-ticket holder at Norwich FC.
“It gave me the chance to put across my point of view about small business,” said Hopkins. “Toby Perkins is a big supporter of pubs and Labour are keen to seen as the party for small business.”
Hopkins believes the pub industry is being hit hard from all angles and is hopeful that Labour can get this message across to the Government.
“We just don’t have a level playing field,” said Hopkins. “There is the whole issue of the beer duty escalator which was introduced by Labour and the cheap supermarket deals which are making it very difficult.
“Business rates are another massive issue for pubs, as well as the cost of employing staff. I am not saying that staff should not get holidays or a minimum wage but the cost of staff seems to be going up whilst the money being made is coming down.”
She said that the business rates at one of her pubs had doubled overnight whilst the other saw a 50% increase.