Osborne said the beer-duty cut is “just the beginning” of Government assistance for the brewing and pub sector.
Speaking during a visit to Marston’s Brewery in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, last week, he said: “What I would say about the duty cut in the Budget is that it’s just the beginning of helping this industry.
“But what I want to talk to the industry about now is what we can do to help young people get employed in the industry, what we can do to support British agriculture, which is where it all starts, and what we can do with the pub industry, which is where it ends, where the product is sold.”
British Beer & Pub Association public affairs director David Wilson, who was one of several industry figures at a round-table meeting with Osborne at the brewery, said the sector agreed to put together a package of measures to show how the recent beer-duty reduction is being used by the industry to stimulate growth in the economy and create jobs.
He said there was no specific timetable for doing so and “no pressure” was placed on the trade. “There was no sense of, ‘I’ve done this, now you tell me what you are going to do in return’,” said Wilson.
The plan is to go back to the Treasury with figures at a later date.
Kate Nicholls, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ strategic affairs director, agreed the Chancellor was open to hearing the views of the trade.
She said: “We are pleased the Chancellor recognised the value of backing and supporting a sector that is a lightning rod for assessing consumer confidence, and the health of local communities and high streets. We want to meet him regularly to help him do that.”
Other senior industry leaders present at the meeting asked Osborne for further support on a range of issues. Spirit Pub Company chief executive Mike Tye asked if the Government would allow the industry to take on more apprentices.
Beds and Bars managing director Keith Knowles called for pressure to be placed on councils to make them more amenable to operators; for example, by easing planning restrictions.
Keith Bott, managing director of Titanic Brewery and chairman of the Society of Independent Brewers, raised the issue of difficulties that companies in the sector face accessing finance.
Punch Taverns executive chairman Stephen Billingham said there was a risk that the proposed statutory code for tenanted pub operators risked taking equity out of the pub sector and could lead to closures.
Others at the meeting included: Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay; Paul Wells, executive chairman of Charles Wells; Stonegate CEO Toby Smith; Yummy Pub Co director Anthony Pender; Molson Coors communications director Nick Lakin; and All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group chairman Andrew Griffiths.