The document, which was initially leaked to the Daily Mirror and the The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday (10 May), lists the party’s key policies ahead of the general election on 8 June.
As well as setting up a national pub review, the draft said the party will establish a joint taskforce that will “consider the future sustainability” of pubs.
Other policies which would directly affect licensees include giving communities more power to shape their town centres, by strengthening powers to protect pubs and promote measures to reduce shop vacancies on the high street.
Business rates reforms
A package of reforms on business rates has also been mentioned, including switching the index that rates are linked to from the Retail Price Index (RPI) to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and ensuring that businesses have access to a proper appeals process.
In the longer term, the party plans to review the entire business rates system, the draft said.
Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) chief executive Kate Nicholls, said that while they would not want to assume the draft represents a finalised version of the party’s manifesto, they would “certainly welcome such measures in the finished product”.
“The Government, whoever that may be following the General Election, needs to turn its attention to the business rates system and implement a full scale, root and branch reform.
“The move from RPI to CPI and enshrinement of the appeals process are two things that the ALMR has been pushing for for many years and both would represent positive steps by a new Government.”
British Institute of Innkeeping chief executive Mike Clist said they would support any measure that ensure the business rates system is fair and balanced, and look forward to the official publication of the manifesto to see the full details.
Welcome early change
British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds said she would welcome a commitment to a review of the entire business rates system.
She said that pubs pay 2.8% of the total business rates bill, but account for only 0.5% of turnover. “BBPA has been calling for the Government commitment to use CPI rather than RPI from 2020 to be brought forward, so we would welcome an earlier change.”
Simmonds added: “It is good to see a focus on our high streets, where BBPA has been working through the High Streets Forum and of course there is a pub on almost every high street.
“But, we would want to look at any proposals in detail, as this can be an area where well-intentioned interventions can often result in unexpected new red tape and burdens for pubs.”