General Election 2017

Pub agenda ‘must not be delayed’ by hung parliament

By Georgina Townshend Claire Churchard

- Last updated on GMT

Current uncertainty: calls have been made to resolve the hung parliament as quickly as possible
Current uncertainty: calls have been made to resolve the hung parliament as quickly as possible

Related tags: Business rates, Government

Leading figures in the pub industry have warned that progress on issues that affect pubs must not be delayed by the hung parliament election result.

A hung parliament means no single party has the majority needed to govern, leaving the future of country uncertain. The value of the British pound dropped sharply as the results became clear early this morning (9 June).

Pub industry bodies called for politicians in Westminster to end the “current uncertainty” as quickly as possible to ensure that the “immediate and desperate needs” of the pub sector are resolved.

Key issues for the sector such as Brexit, business rates reform, the right of EU nationals to stay in the UK and alcohol tax are still up in the air as the nation waits to see how the next government is formed.

Vote against 'hard' Brexit

Commenting on the shock result, Peter Borg-Neal, founder of Oakman Inns, told The Morning Advertiser​: “Given we have a hung parliament, we need to make sure that issues such as business rates reform don’t get put on the back burner.

“However, the result gives me some hope as the [previous] government had taken an arrogant approach to pub sector campaigns for business rates reform and had not committed to sorting it out. The Tories will now be looking for friends so they might listen more. Of course, we are likely to get a different government and prime minister.”

He also said that the result shows “there’s been a rejection of the government’s approach to Brexit”.

“Every sensible leader in our industry is anti-Brexit and we were not impressed by the lack of clarity over whether our staff from the EU would be protected. I think we could be moving to a soft Brexit or even that Brexit may now be in doubt.”

Urgent action

British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “With the Brexit negotiations due to begin, I hope we can secure, very swiftly, the rights of existing EU staff in our sector and begin to put in place arrangements that ensure we have access to the skills we need, and trade as freely as possible.

“While Brexit will bring opportunities as well as challenges, the sector needs a stable policy framework with no new and unnecessary costs and red tape.”

She said the industry is already dealing with a great many new costs and regulatory challenges this year, with a big increase in beer duty in the Budget, and unfair business rates, among others.

Clarity and certainty

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate Nicholls agreed saying: “The key short-term outcome from the general election is that there is a vacuum where businesses need clarity and certainty.”

She said it was “of paramount importance that any new government is in place swiftly” to address the “immediate and desperate needs” of businesses trying to operate amid the cost burdens of business rates, the national living wage and many other pressures. She also emphasised the “crucial role” pubs play in supporting the UK economy.

The Conservative party has ended up with 12 fewer seats than when Prime Minister Theresa May called the election in April, with a total of 319 – meaning the general election produced no overall winner.

Related topics: Legislation

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