Open letter to the new pubs minister

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Open letter to the new pubs minister

Related tags Beer duty escalator Public house David cameron

Welcome to your new role, we’re delighted to finally have you on board.

We can only assume that the length of time it took for your appointment to be announced was down to the never-ending queue of MPs knocking on David Cameron’s door and begging for the job of pubs minister? I can think of no other reason for the delay as, without a doubt, you’ve managed to land the best job in Government.

So now you’re in the role, what are we to expect from you? Your previous work on the beer duty escalator, and your calls for it to be scrapped, were applauded by the trade. That work has certainly helped endear yourself to the sector but, of course, you’re only as good as your last gig and it won’t be long before you’re being asked, “Yes, that’s all very good, but what have you done for me lately?”.

So what should be your priorities in the job, moving ahead. Well, number one, for sure, will be to avoid the mistake of your predecessor – Kris Hopkins had so little time for the trade that most publicans weren’t even aware who was in the role of pubs minister.

So be more visible – get out there and into the pubs (a tough job, I know) and get to know the people running those businesses.

You started well with the scrapping of the beer duty escalator, but how about going further? Let’s see duty cuts as well – you made the point that beer was in danger of becoming a luxury item, so let’s bring those prices down.

The planning system needs addressing – get on top of that and clear up the confusion surrounding the ACV situation. Legitimate protection is needed for vulnerable pubs, not the ‘one-size-fits-all’ weak and woolly scheme we have now.

Your Prime Minister David Cameron declared the previous administration to be the most ‘pub-friendly’ government ever. While some would debate whether that promise was really fulfilled, there’s an opportunity for you to renew it and truly deliver.

We’re entering a strange and unsettled period in the pub trade. With the new code and MRO regulations about to kick in, there’s a lot to play for and a lot that could still go disastrously wrong. What we need to see from our pubs minister is that he’s got a handle on those issues, that he’s at the heart of what is happening, and helping to guide things forward with the best interests of pubs and the communities they serve at heart.

The pubs sector is hugely over-regulated, more so than any other area, so let’s see you get to grips with that. Your party is all for getting rid of the red tape – well wield those scissors and everyone in the trade will be raising a glass in your honour.

No pressure then! Good luck in the job, and we’ll see you down the pub soon, we hope.


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