Hopkins was responding to an open letter from Publican's Morning Advertiser editor Rob Willock in which he questioned the minister's record since taking on the pubs ministry in July, and asked what his legacy might be for community pubs across the country.
However, Hopkins said he was continuing the work of his predecessor Brandon Lewis and plans to chair a meeting of the cross-Whitehall ministerial pubs group later this month to discuss a number of issues affecting the trade, as well as holding further meetings with other key industry figures.
Read the full letter below:
As both Community Pubs Minister and a proud Yorkshireman I am deeply committed to the Great British Pub, which has a coveted and historic place in our society. Just weeks ago while writing in this magazine I expressed my enthusiasm at being handed the brief.
Your editorial – An open letter to Kris Hopkins – asked what I have done for the sector since my appointment. In my short tenure so far in the role, I have visited community-owned pubs in both Salford and York learning first-hand about the sterling efforts of local people who saved their beloved public houses from closure by buying and taking over the running of them.
I have met a number of key industry figures and will continue to do so in the coming weeks, although the true great and good of the industry must be the communities who are saving their locals from closure up and down the land. Not forgetting the organisations which work tirelessly to support them, such as the Plunkett Foundation and Pub is the Hub, which I will continue to fund through my Department.
You acknowledge a number of issues, which lay outside my Department’s direct control, such as noise pollution, tax disparities and training. I would like to assure you the pubs sector has no bigger supporter within government, which is why I have convened the cross-Whitehall ministerial pubs group to meet at the end of the month to discuss these issues. In addition, I will also be holding a roundtable with other key groups, such as the All Party Parliamentary Groups on beer and pubs as well as other key industry figures.
While I could go on to list all the beer festivals and pub visits I have carried out so far in this role – which to be frank as an MP I would support my local breweries and as a fan of a pint I would be down the pub anyway – I believe that might be missing the point.
You asked what my promise was to the pubs sector. When I came into this role I made a vow to be your champion across Whitehall and beyond, and that pledge stands stronger now than ever.
I am completely committed to continuing the excellent work of my predecessor, Brandon Lewis, and indeed his before him, Bob Neil, both of whom delivered much for the sector including abolishing the deeply unpopular beer and alcohol duty escalators, cutting business taxes for pubs and giving communities the right to protect their local from closure by listing it as a community asset.
Pubs are just as important to communities like mine in Keighley as they are to the wider economy, so during my tenure in this role I am determined to do all I can to help them thrive and prosper. I hope the Morning Advertiser will support me in that.
Kris Hopkins MP
Community Pubs Minister