'Quite simply, we are a pub-going nation' - Cameron talks to PMA

By Mike Berry

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Community pubs Community pubs minister Public house Taxation in the united kingdom Beer

David Cameron: "There is so much about the great British pub that I love"
David Cameron: "There is so much about the great British pub that I love"
The Publican’s Morning Advertiser spoke exclusively to Prime Minister David Cameron before the election about his record on pubs and what licensees can expect from a future Conservative government.

You said when you became PM you wanted this Government to be the most pro-pub ever. To what extent do you feel you’ve achieved that?

A vital signal is that we reduced beer duty in the Budget in 2013 for the first time in 40 years, scrapped Labour’s beer duty escalator and reduced duty at the next two Budgets. A pint is now 9p cheaper than it would have been under Labour’s plans, and duties on spirits and cider have been cut. But, of course, there is nothing more pro-pub than building a strong economy. Look at what it’s helped us to do for publicans. We’ve cut income taxes for 26m people, putting more money in punters’ pockets. We’ve backed businesses by cutting taxes, lowering national insurance contributions for employers, slashing red tape and cutting business rate relief for community pubs, so you can hire more staff and expand your business.

What’s more, we will go on being the most pro-pub Government. Just this month we have launched our offer to British pubs. First, we promise that in the next parliament, the cost of the premises licence to smaller pubs will be frozen. Second, we will set up a ‘Last Pub Loan Fund’​, helping community groups to obtain small loans to pay for things like lawyers’ fees or materials for refurbishment, where they have bid to run their rural pub and the developers want to sell. These things are only possible because we’re fixing our economy — and that is something we can all drink to.

What further support can you promise the licensed trade if you win the election?

I promise to carry on backing publicans by continuing the plan that’s turning Britain around. Some politicians may think that just being photographed propping up a bar means they are behind the pub trade. We have actually put our money where our mouth is and proven our support — and we will do so again. We’ve already raised the personal allowance threshold, so you can earn up to £10,600 before paying any tax. We want to go further — raising that to £12,500 so we cut the taxes of 30m people. That means more people with more money to spend on your premises. We will carry on backing business in every way we can, and will look at further ways of cutting unnecessary red tape for pubs and small businesses. That’s what will help us reach full employment — a job for everyone who wants one — and pubs will play a key role. All this means one thing — we will remain firmly on the side of Britain’s publicans.

There is nothing more pro-pub than building a strong economy

How effective has the role of Community Pubs Minister been?

I think it’s right that we have a Community Pubs Minister at the heart of Government. As you can imagine, it’s a coveted job! In Kris Hopkins, the pub industry has a brilliant champion. And it’s no coincidence that, with such great ministers in the post during the past five years, pubs have received more support than ever before. We’ve provided £250,000 to back community pubs, helping them diversify their services and communities to purchase and run their pubs. Then we’ve got the ‘Community Right to Bid’ — allowing people to list their pubs as assets of community value and giving them time to raise the finances to buy the pub.

Will the role be given further credibility and influence in the next parliament?

Pubs add £20bn to our economy each year and employ hundreds of thousands of people. That is something we should celebrate and support. But I think we can build on those numbers — and I want to see the Community Pubs Minister lead the charge.

It was Government policy not to introduce the market rent-only option in the pubs code, but it is now going ahead. How will you ensure the law of unintended consequences does not apply?

It was right in the end to recognise the strength of feeling in parliament on this issue. It was driven by a genuine desire to support publicans. Our concern was always to avoid the risk of unintended consequences, which could damage the industry and would not be in the interests of tenants. That’s why we have focused our attention on making sure we work with tenant representatives and pub companies to get this right.

What do you like most about the great British pub?

I’m a real ale fan — it’s the pint I most look forward to. But there is so much about the great British pub that I love. The selection of beers is getting wider, the food in so many pubs now is great. I love the atmosphere, whether it’s looking out over the sea at my favourite Cornish pubs or watching the children run around the beer garden at my local — even if I have been known to leave them there on occasion.

Quite simply, we are a pub-going nation — no one does pubs better than us — and that’s something we can all be proud of. As a family, we are keen walkers and cyclists — and it is fair to say that most trips end in a pub!

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