Trade bodies including UKHospitality (UKH), the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) and Pub is the Hub, have written to Johnson and Hunt in a bid to highlight the economic value and social importance of the brewing, pub and hospitality industry.
The letter urged the Prime Ministerial candidates to support the sector with a range of measures, including at least a freeze on beer duty for the rest of the current parliament’s term and an urgent review of the business rates system with the aim of reducing the burden on high street businesses.
It also called for short-term business rates support at the 2019 Budget for pub and hospitality businesses of all sizes in a bid to alleviate the immediate threats and promote investment.
Value of our venues
Alongside this, it urged for a review of the VAT and excise duty systems, post-Brexit to promote out-of-home consumption, to ensure tariff-free trade on food and drink with the EU to promote beer exports and keep the cost of food down for UK consumers.
It also called for a post-Brexit immigration system to help pubs and brewers access the staff they need to succeed and grow, as well as support for the recently announced tourism sector deal, which aims to boost the sector and improve the number and quality of apprenticeships and wider training.
UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “After such a prolonged period of uncertainty and instability for hospitality operators, it is crucial to the fortunes of our sector and the British economy that a new Prime Minister (PM) recognises and acts to protect the value of our venues to the UK economy, culture and society.
“The operating environment is approaching crisis point and we cannot stand by without making this a top priority for a new PM."
She added: “We and our sector allies have sent a firm but friendly reminder to Hunt and Johnson that the venues Brits value so highly are at risk and we have called upon them to take simple but effective measures to safeguard our pubs.”
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds lauded pubs as “the original social network”, highlighting their importance to communities alongside international and domestic tourists.
She said: “The number of pubs in the UK is falling and they need support now more than ever. This is why we and other industry bodies are calling for the Conservative leadership hopefuls to back beer and pubs.
“We have set out a range of measures that Johnson and Hunt could follow to help our sector and our door remains open for their engagement now and after the election result is announced.”