2017 Predictions: Simmonds says next year to be dominated by Brexit

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Consequences: Brigid Simmonds said the aftermath of the EU referendum will affect the sector more than anything else next year.
Consequences: Brigid Simmonds said the aftermath of the EU referendum will affect the sector more than anything else next year.

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The British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds has said Brexit and its consequences will be the challenge for the sector next year.

When the country voted ‘leave’ in the EU referendum​ in the summer (June), the trade reacted with concern and felt the vote would have a negative impact as customers were likely to spend less because of ongoing economic uncertainty.

Simmonds said: “There is absolutely no doubt that the coming year will remain dominated by Brexit​ and its consequences.

“There are both opportunities and risks for our sector; we must make the case for light regulation and a more favourable tax regime – something that is now more pressing than ever.

“As the Brexit debate​ continues, we also need to impress upon the Government the importance of securing the labour and skills the sector needs and [make it clear] this debate is not just about the banking or motor industry.”

She also said the rights of foreign employees in the sector should be secured and future employment needs of the trade are made central to the Brexit debate.

Can’t get British people in

Simmonds added: “This isn’t just about pubs, but the whole supply chain, beginning with the agricultural sector.

“We will also play our part in terms of apprenticeships, guidance to industry and engagement in the skills agenda.”

Gordon Reid, from the Queen’s Arms, in Corton Denham, Dorset, voiced his worries about employment when Article 50 is triggered next year.

He said: “I can’t get British people in to do the job, I can’t get a British chef because we do not grow our own.”

Simmonds also highlighted the issue of duties for next year and said taxation will come into even sharper focus.

She added: “Another beer duty cut is needed to ensure continued confidence in the sector in uncertain times. More than ever before, we need a tax system that encourages investment.

“A rate of beer duty that is many times that of our neighbouring countries is not sustainable.”

Fairer business rates system for pubs

Business rates​ have come into the spotlight this year in readiness of new rates being introduced in 2017.

Simmonds said: “There will also be continued debate about business rates and the need to ensure a fairer system for pubs, as well as addressing the need to cushion the huge blow to many pubs that stems from the recent revaluation.

“Tax on capital investment is neither fair nor equitable.

The BBPA boss had her say on the pubs code and market rent-only option (MRO) which came into force in July.

“I also hope 2017 is a year which the debate about MRO​ becomes more settled,” she said.

“As the new system of regulation beds in, it is an opportunity to show that the tied model serves the sector well and the vast majority of business partnerships benefit from it, when compared with commercial rent agreements.”

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