Government vows to help food and drink sector

By Georgina Townshend contact

- Last updated on GMT

Making progress: industry bodies welcome the Government's white paper on its new Industrial Strategy
Making progress: industry bodies welcome the Government's white paper on its new Industrial Strategy

Related tags: Food and drink, Government

The Government will "strengthen partnerships" within the food and drink sector, as part of its new Industrial Strategy white paper.

Last week in the Autumn Budget​, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the Government would produce an Industrial Strategy, setting out the "long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK".

On Monday (27 November), the Government published the strategy white paper, revealing the creation of a new Food and Drink Sector Council, which will "lead the work to secure the UK's position as a global leader in sustainable, affordable, safe and high-quality food and drink".

The document, titled Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain fit for the future​, reads: "The opportunities – and challenges for food and drink raised by exiting the EU are significant.

"To address this, we are committing to establishing a new partnership between Government and the whole food chain, working with industry leaders from agriculture, food and drink manufacturing, retail, hospitality and logistics."

An early task for this sector council, it said, will be to build on emerging proposals for a sector deal in food and drink manufacturing, including support to the transform exports and capitalise on its "unique innovation opportunities in sustainable agriculture and food manufacturing".

The document also states that to "ensure a fair landscape for business", the Government will go further on reforming business rates. 

"On top of major reforms to business rates announced at Budget 2016, worth approximately £9bn by the end of this parliament, we will improve the fairness of the system and provide a further £2.3bn of support to businesses over the next five years," said the document.

Huge importance

Both the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) have welcomed the Government's recognition of the "huge strategic importance of the food and drink sector".

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “The proposed partnership with the industry, through a new Food & Drink Sector Council, is something we will fully engage in, given it spans our whole industry, from grain to glass.

"We are already working closely with DEFRA on a £100m export strategy for British beer, and also through the Courtauld Commitment to deliver a 20% per capita reduction in food waste by 2025. I am sure other valuable initiatives can be fostered through Government working closely with industry."

Transformed economy

As part of the new Industrial Strategy, the Government has set out five foundations that "align their vision for a transformed economy". These are ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and places.

On the white paper, ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The Government’s progress on its Industrial Strategy should help provide the eating and drinking-out sector with additional avenues to secure support and stimulate growth.

“Consolidating the numerous aims and pillars into five foundations should hopefully allow for a more holistic approach to support across businesses in a sector that incorporates numerous elements of industry and trade.

"This consolidated approach is one the ALMR has been pushing for with its calls for a hospitality champion and flexibility from the Government.

“The Government is clearly serious in its aims to make the UK the most productive country in the world – a great start would be to address the tax and regulatory burdens on a sector that creates one in six of all new jobs and pays £63bn in turnover.”

Related topics: Legislation

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