In the lead-up to the election, The Morning Advertiser looked at how the different parties’ policies would impact pubs.
For the Conservatives, shortly after being appointed Foreign Secretary in 2016, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was voted the politician most trusted to run a pub, with more than a fifth (22%) of those surveyed claiming they would trust him with their business.
Most of the Prime Minister’s recent engagement with the on-trade occurred while he was Mayor of London between May 2008 and May 2016.
He has never been required to vote on demanding pub companies offer rent-only leases in Parliament, for example, and has generally voted for higher taxes on alcoholic drinks and pledged to review ‘sin taxes’ such as sugar in his campaign to become leader of the Conservative party.
In a strategic plan, published in March 2015, Johnson pledged to help London’s 33 local authorities to protect valued pubs – the first time the role of the capital’s pubs was recognised in the London Plan.
He also backed the ‘agent-of-change’ principle in an attempt to protect London’s live music venues.
Business rates cut
Before the release of its manifesto in November, the Conservative Party vowed to protect Britain’s ailing towns and communities with a swathe of measures, including slashing business rates for pubs.
The Prime Minister also said his party would commit to reassessing alcohol duty in a bid to encourage UK drinks producers’ sales and exports.
According to its manifesto, the Conservatives said it would cut business rates for small retail businesses including pubs, establish a £150m community ownership fund to help purchase community assets, including pubs, and review alcohol duty to ensure the tax system is supporting British drink producers.
On the Conservative win, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “A majority means we begin to draw a line under the uncertainty we have felt over the past few years.
“The priority for this Government will be to secure the best Brexit possible and the sooner it does that, the sooner it needs to fulfil its election promises to business.
“We want to see the promised reduction in business rates delivered at the earliest opportunity. The new Government must also support business in delivering employment and an increase in skills and opportunities across the board.”
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) chairman Nik Antona called on the Government to help the beer and pub sector.
He said: “CAMRA congratulates the Conservatives on the election win. Pubs make a significant contribution to our society, culture and economy and we hope the Government will act quickly to ensure stability and a thriving future for beer and pubs.
“This means prioritising reform of the business rates system, consider a lower rate of tax on beer served in pubs, taking action to ensure the pubs code is fit for purpose.”
Wine & Spirits Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale said the organisation was looking forward to working with the new Government to end the “crippling uncertainty” in the UK since the referendum result.
He added: “It is key that we complete the ambitious Brexit timetable with a withdrawal agreement that supports UK businesses and eliminates any risk of a no-deal scenario.
“We welcome the Government’s pledge to back British business and this can start immediately by cutting wine and spirit tax. A cut to all hospitality business rates would also provide a welcome boost to the struggling high street.”
British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin also highlighted how the new Government needs to help the trade grow.
She said: “With a clear election result, there is now a new Government in power and our priority will be working with them to provide the support our sector needs to flourish in 2020.
“Brexit deadlines will soon be upon the new Government and we hope they will be quick to resolve the need our sector has to retain access to talent post-Brexit.
“The Conservative Party manifesto included a commitment to cut business rates for pubs and a review of alcohol duty to ensure the tax system is supporting British drink producers. We look forward to working with the new Government to ensure it delivers on much needed support for our sector, including recognising the 228,000 people who have signed the Long Live the Local petition to cut beer duty.
“Pubs and beer play a vital role in our lives, communities and economy. It is imperative the new Government does all it can to support them.”