McClarkin: ‘We need recognition of the pain we’ve been through’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Sector support: 'I truly believe we’re a vote winner,' says BBPA boss Emma McClarkin ahead of a reported general election later this year
Sector support: 'I truly believe we’re a vote winner,' says BBPA boss Emma McClarkin ahead of a reported general election later this year

Related tags Legislation British beer & pub association

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has put forward its manifesto to the Government, highlighting the importance of the sector and urging ministers to support a number of key requests.

Ahead of the Spring Budget​ in two weeks’ time, the BBPA presented its manifesto, Raising a Glass to Growth, Communities and our Planet​, to parliament.

It outlined how the pub and brewing sector supports 936,000 jobs plus the fact more than 80% of beer consumed in the UK is brewed within the nation’s shores while UK brewers export over 1bn pints a year to at least 100 different countries. It also highlighted how the trade contributes £26.2bn to the UK economy while generating £15.1bn in tax.

The manifesto had a number of key asks to the Government, including a fair tax and regulatory framework to incentivise investment and support economic growth as well as an informed and collaborative approach to lower energy costs, packaging waste and net zero.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin told The Morning Advertiser​: “It is about fairness and this is about fair tax regulation. It means it needs to readdress [tax] between bricks and mortar businesses and online businesses.

“It has to recognise the additional taxation burden that we are disproportionately under.

“We have been through some really tough times in four incredibly difficult years and we really need some recognition of that pain we’ve been through and how much longer it has taken us to recover.”

The trade body’s manifesto also called for pubs to be recognised for their unique social value and as an attractive and inclusive sector.

Framework expansion

Key asks from the BBPA’s manifesto:

  • Business rates reform to reduce the burden on pubs
  • Beer duty reduction to at least the European average
  • Lower rate of VAT for food and drink sold in pubs
  • Install a minister of state for pubs
  • Permanent measures to fix the non-domestic energy market
  • Immediate review and holistic business impact assessment of current packaging waste and collection reforms
  • Incentives and tax relief for green investments
  • Make enabling the connection of EV charging points to the grid from pubs a priority
  • Proportionate alcohol policy framework
  • Apprenticeship levy reform
  • Youth Mobility Scheme expansion and immigration system structures improvements

For the brewing industry, the BBPA wants a duty and wider tax framework to incentivise investment, supporting brewers of all sizes as well as the collaborative approach to packaging circularity and net zero.

Furthermore, it also asked for an alcohol and health policy that protects brewers’ freedom to operate while recognising the unique nature and characteristics of beers and brewing alongside sustainable, secure supply chains.

When breaking down the cost of a 4.5% ABV pint costing £4.80, it established the pub makes just 12p of income after tax and other costs were deducted.

McClarkin said: “Why invest in pubs and breweries? The reason is when we’re doing well, generally the rest of the economy is firing.

“We’re so intertwined with local economies, high streets and consumers. We have an intimate relationship with the cost of living, [we know] where consumers are spending and we feel it first. We are the bellwether for a litmus test for the economy, to see how it’s going.”

The trade body boss outlined the impact of communities having a thriving pub on the local area.

She added: “When you have a decent pub nearby, house prices go up, other businesses benefit from people visiting there because they know they can have a nice coffee or a lunch.

“When that pub isn’t there any more or they don’t have access to that good hospitality offer, they don’t go [to that area].”

Dedicated minister

Another of the calls in the document is for a dedicated pubs minister with a cross-Government remit alongside the immediate establishment of a taskforce to develop a sustainable tax and regulatory framework for pubs and brewers.

The role would consider the cumulative impacts of tax, regulation and living wage policy, reducing red tape and delivering planning reforms.

“We’ve had to do a lot of education, lobbying different ministers we’ve had who have dealt with the areas that cover hospitality and pubs but I’d particularly like to see there be a focus on a minister for pubs who recognises their special qualities and what they bring,” she said.

“We need someone who has got the time, who is all over the detail and is really dedicated to understanding that it is a priority.”

A general election is expected later on this year and the BBPA chief executive highlighted how the Budget was the Government’s opportunity to show it is listening.

“We have given them examples of real-life P&Ls that have compounded the nature of everything,” McClarkin said.

“When they [the Government] strip out each element of it, they try to have an argument or defence for everything but the reality is, the compounded total taxation burden on the industry is not working.

“If they don’t take action, I feel voters will be watching and listening. The pub and local breweries [are something voters] genuinely care about. If the Government is not taking this information in and looks like they are stonewalling, they’ll look deaf not only to businesses but also to local communities.

“I truly believe we’re a vote winner.”

Related topics Legislation

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