Beer Group MP: 'We won over beer, many would say we lost over pubs'

By Andrew Griffiths MP

- Last updated on GMT

Beer Group MP: 'We won over beer, many would say we lost over pubs'

Related tags: All-party parliamentary beer, Member of parliament

Just like the Forth Road Bridge, where famously workmen on completing a new coat of paint have to start all over again at the other end, so the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group begins again at the start of the new Parliament.

Looking back over the last five years I think this Government and this Parliament proved to be a positive one for the beer and pub industry.  Of course, fundamental to that was the scrapping of Labour’s hated beer duty escalator and the historic three cuts in beer duty.

However there were many other decisions that were positive and welcome such as the reductions in business rates for pubs, the decision to abandon fiscal marks on beer, and the changes to National Insurance Contributions that were helpful for employers.

I genuinely think that this was a Government that got the importance of beer and pubs, and that tried to help where it could.

However, there were clearly areas where the industry failed in getting its message across either to Government or Parliament.  Whilst we won over beer, many would say we lost over pubs.  The Government was persuaded of the need to approach regulation of tenanted pubs in a proportionate way, but many Members of Parliament were not.  Pubcos failed to convince backbench MPs that they were treating their tenants fairly.  Right or wrong, MPs decided that further regulation was needed, and the defeat on the Government over MROs was inflicted.

The contrast in the success of the two issues only I think demonstrates the vital importance of making sure that everyone involved in this industry reengages and redoubles efforts to convince policy makers of the need to do the right thing for our brewers and pubs.

Whilst we have a Chancellor that understands this industry, after the General Election we have 177 new Members of Parliament, many of whom have little understanding of the challenges we face.  That is why the Beer Group is already trying to engage and get those new MPs interested in what you do (not that MPs need much of an introduction to being the other side of the bar).

There are many big issues that the industry faces – the impact of that vote on MROs and how it is implemented, the impact of schemes similar to that in Ipswich banning higher strength products from the shelves of supermarkets and the vital review by the Chancellor into business rates.  And of course it goes without saying the need to remake the case for the Chancellor to reduce duty on the nation’s brewers.

In the Beer Group we are doing all we can to get that message across, but it is only if we work in partnership, producers and operators, that we can hope to have more successes in the future.

Andrew Griffiths is MP for Burton and Uttoxeter and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group

Related topics: Beer

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