Opinion

Politics and the pub: what should operators look out for in 2019?

By MA Editorial

- Last updated on GMT

Pub politics: what changes in policy could affect the on-trade in the next 12 months?
Pub politics: what changes in policy could affect the on-trade in the next 12 months?
The Morning Advertiser asked industry experts to predict what policy changes could affect the on-trade in 2019.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UKHospitality

Kate Nicholls

“Brexit will obviously continue to dominate headlines but venues should also expect the Government to continue to push on calories, allergens and labelling.

“Policy-makers are going to want to give the impression of being tough on obesity and promoting healthier attitudes to food and drink. Therefore, any action on menu labelling ought not to come as a surprise.

“The important thing for pubs is that any new regulation is affordable, proportionate and affordable for businesses to implement.

“The good news is that the sector is already working hard to provide information to customers voluntarily so we can already point to all the work we have already done.

“Hopefully, we can also use this to avoid any unwieldy allergen regulation.”

 

Michael Erridge, founder, MDE Pub Consultants

Michael Erridge

“I expect 2019 to be an important year for the pubs code legislation, as it comes up for legislative review – which can hopefully begin early in the new year.

“There are a number of issues with the legislation that need to be dealt with, as we still lack clarity on a number of key points.

“In this respect I’m optimistic that things should improve in 2019, and I expect less PCA (pubs code adjudicator) referrals as a result – especially once PCA awards begin to be made public.

“The tied model will evolve further in 2019, with pubcos favouring shorter-term tied agreements, often contracted out of Landlord & Tenant Act protection.

“Longer-term agreements will be offered free-of-tie or with stocking requirements, with higher rental expectations. Next year should hopefully bring clarity on what constitutes a fair and reasonable stocking requirement.

“As the pubs code has changed the dynamic of the tied relationship, I expect more tenanted sites to convert to owner managed in 2019 – a trend we’ve seen starting to gain momentum with some pub-owning businesses.

“Also with Brexit on the horizon bringing uncertainty, I expect consumer spending will be squeezed, so pubs will have to fight harder than ever to remain an important aspect of British life.”

 

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive, British Beer & Pub Association

Brigid Simmonds OBE

“As we approach 2019, it is very hard to predict how Brexit will turn out. Businesses thrive on certainty though so fragile consumer confidence along with real concerns that migration could restrict access to labour will be of concern to all. 

“The industry will be working with the Government on their commitment to a sector deal for tourism, which we would expect to come to fruition in 2019. Expanding the season, increased productivity and connectivity will be key.

“We need quality talent to attract people to work in our sector and a real partnership across Government will allow us to work together on a proper recruitment and retention campaign.

“In 2019, our high streets should benefit from the £600m pot identified in the Budget and we need to persuade Government to undertake a full overhaul of business rates, as well as looking at what more help they can offer to pubs under the revaluation, which is due in 2021.

“Beer duty in the UK still remains too high and we will continue to work hard for a fairer regime for brewers, pubs and consumers.

“Regulation will, as ever, be key. It is essential that any deposit return scheme is UK-wide and business-led.

“Calories on menus will be a challenge to the diverse and individual approach of many pubs. We need to grow our exports and ensure that trade continues smoothly.

“The role of trade associations to protect and enhance the work of our members will be vital and 2019 is unlikely to be any exception.”

 

Andy Grimsey, partner, specialist licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen

Andy Grimsey

“So far as alcohol and entertainment licensing goes, whichever Government is in place will, quite frankly, have bigger fish to fry. 

“Most of the meaningful recommendations from the House of Lords Select Committee, which were adopted by the Government have found their way into the revised guidance and we are unlikely to see significant, if any, changes to primary legislation regarding alcohol licensing. 

“As a result of some tragic allergens cases in 2018, we are likely to see customers being more aware of what they are ordering in restaurants and wanting more information about allergens, sources of food and ingredients. 

“Regarding food safety law, this is all up in the air due to UK statutes’ compliance with EU directives. If we end up with 'no deal', this could have significant implications.

“So far as gambling goes, machines in pubs are likely to receive more attention particularly regarding age verification, following a number of recent test purchasing operations by licensing authorities working with the Gambling Commission.

“All in all, given the uncertainty, anything remotely looking like the status quo might just for once be considered a good thing.”

 

Mike Clist, chief executive, British Institute of Innkeeping

Mike Clist

“Next year looks like it could full of mixed blessings.

“In respect of the Government, we need a satisfactory end to the Brexit negotiations.

“As I write this, the outcome is still uncertain and if we want continued investment into the infrastructure, pub companies need certainty in the future economy of the country.

“Any changes to immigration policies need to reflect that we are already suffering unprecedented staff shortages.

“Away from Brexit, rating reform is still of vital importance and we will continue to lobby for a complete review of the ratings system as promised in leading party manifestos.

“As an awarding body, we are pleased to see the positive changes taking place in training and apprenticeship take up within pubs and pub companies, which continue to improve service and standards in our pubs with upskilling continuing apace.

“In respect of the environment, pubs have set a great example to others by leading the way in voluntarily reducing the consumption of single-use plastics.

“This initiative, led by the BII backed by The Morning Advertiser​ and other hospitality bodies has in particular dramatically reduced the use of plastic straws and stirrers.

“Once again, our great industry has led the way and I am sure will continue to do so as we go in to 2019.

“Lastly, pubs will continue to be the heroes of their communities.

“They are places so many people rely on for companionship, support or perhaps just a friendly face to chat to. A place where people care and look out for each other, the pillar of our communities, a place I am and we should all be proud of.”

Related topics: Legislation

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