Next Government ‘needs to ensure sector thrives not just survives’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

(image: Getty/	richjem)
(image: Getty/ richjem)

Related tags Legislation ukhospitality British beer & pub association

Voices from across the sector have responded to the announcement of a general election taking place next month (Thursday 4 July).

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced yesterday (Wednesday 22 May) the date the nation will be heading to the polls.

In response, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls called for the future Government to provide support to the sector.

She said: “Hospitality businesses lie at the heart of every constituency in the country. In serving Britain, the sector creates places where people want to live, work and invest.

“We need to see all political parties recognise this and will be working hard on behalf of our members during this period, to ensure manifestos from across the political spectrum reflect the strategic importance of our sector.

“We need to see evidence of measures that can unlock the potential of our sector to do even more. These include promises of action to lower the tax burden on our industry, initiatives that give us greater access to workers, and other measures that will support us in creating more jobs and further upskilling the workforce.”

British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin also outlined the importance of the sector.

She said: “Pubs and breweries are at the heart of our communities.  They bring friends and strangers together and in so many way help form the glue for vital social cohesion. 

“With a supportive fiscal and regulatory framework, which includes alleviating the tax burden the beer and pub sector currently endures with proportionate and fair business rates and duty, pubs can help with the revitalisation for local high streets and economies. 

“The beer and pub sector enjoys huge instinctive support with nine out of 10 people regularly enjoying a refreshing beer in their local.”

She echoed Nicholls in urging the next Government to support the industry going forward.

“The sector has faced significant challenges in the last few years and we need the next Government to put in place policies that will ensure that breweries and pubs do not just survive, but thrive and can achieve their full potential and maximise their economic, social and community value,” McClarkin added.

Being at the heart of communities was also emphasised by British Institute of Innkeeping CEO Steve Alton.

Key to unlocking growth

Why are British elections always held on a Thursday?

General elections have been held on a Thursday since 1931 and while there is no official reason, reportedly the pub sector is partly behind the decision.

It is rumoured that some believed Fridays were unsuitable due to it often being payday with Sundays ruled out because of the tradition of religious activities taking place.

Therefore, a midweek day could mean voters would be away from the influence of the pub and the church.

“Our #MyPub campaign saw MPs from across the political spectrum supporting and championing their local pubs, raising awareness of the vital role they play in every town, city and high street across the UK," he said.

“The agility, resilience and adaptability of pubs has always meant our sector has been key to unlocking economic growth, providing essential local employment and flexible career opportunities, but pubs do so much more. They support vulnerable members of their communities, provide a safe and welcoming space for all and facilitate the much-needed human connection like no other business.

“We will continue to ensure ministers and officials alike are fully aware of the investment and support needed for our nations’ pubs, no matter the results of the election this summer.”

The announcement was welcomed by Night-Time Industries Association boss Michael Kill, who said it marked a “pivotal moment” for the nation.

He added: “Offering an opportunity to put an end to the prolonged period of uncertainty and turmoil that has gripped our country for the past four years.

“As CEO of the NTIA, I recognise the importance of stability and effective governance in addressing the challenges faced by our sectors. The past years have been marked by uncertainty and instability, which have taken a toll on businesses and communities across the country.”

He said it was imperative the election period was navigated with a sense of responsibility and purpose as the election outcome will determine the direction the nation will take in years to come

“We urge all stakeholders to engage in a constructive and informed dialogue, focusing on the long-term interests of our country and its citizens,” Kill added.

“Our sector has been particularly hard hit by the challenges of the past years, from the impact of the pandemic to regulatory uncertainties. It is crucial that the elected government works towards a comprehensive and inclusive long-term plan that addresses these challenges and supports the recovery and growth of our industries.”

“We call upon all political parties to prioritise the needs of the night-time economy in their election manifestos and commit to policies that will support its revival and sustainability. This includes measures to ensure the safety and security of our venues, support for cultural initiatives, and investment in skills and training for our workforce.”

“As we approach election day, we remain committed to working collaboratively with policymakers, industry stakeholders, and our communities to build a vibrant and resilient night-time economy that contributes to the social, cultural, and economic fabric of our nation.”

“It is also important to work together to overcome the challenges of the present and build a brighter future for all.”

Woodforde’s Brewery boss Joe Parks was hoping for change after many years with the same Government.

Empty promises

He added: “However I think we have all had enough of empty promises – we need action not just words.

“The incoming Government will have to do more to support the hospitality sector as we’ve been losing pubs and breweries across the UK every week for years.

“Pubs are the lifeblood of the country and whoever takes the helm needs to champion the Great British pub once again.

“I have been hugely disappointed in the current Government and the lack of support they have given the sector and pray its successors recognise the gravity of the situation.

“Thankfully we continue to be in a good position in the market and have plans for growth, but it has been sad to see so many other breweries close because of the lack of support.”

Trade association the Wine & Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) is determine the UK should remain at the centre of the world’s wine and spirit trade, according to chief executive Miles Beale.

The organisation pledged to continue ensuring the voice of that sector was heard clearly domestically and internationally.

Beale added: “We look forward to working with the next Government to deliver economic growth, improved environmental outcomes and greater social responsibility.

“Whatever the future throws at us, the last five years has taught us to be prepared for the unexpected. The WSTA will continue to represent its members and the wider wine and spirits industry effectively, and to be a strong and reliable partner to governments and like-minded organisations.”

He called for the UK’s wine and spirit sector’s economic importance to be recognised and valued by the next Government and outlined what the organisation wanted to see from whichever party came into power.

Beale said: “The WSTA will work closely with any Government that wants to support economic growth and job creation. And where the contribution of the sector is recognised and valued it should follow that its businesses should be appropriately and proportionately taxed and regulated. 

“The election provides the opportunity to reset how we work with a new Government. The WSTA and the businesses we represent want to work more closely with a new Government – of whatever political hue – that has clear goals and a fresh mandate.

“In particular, we want to see a change in the way Government and business work together. If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that Government engagement with industry is patchy and inconsistent. Some Government departments are better at it than others, while some seem actively to disregard the views of business – even where they are essential to delivering change.”

Beale stated the WSTA hoped and expected to work closely with ministers, advisers and officials on the new Government's plans to achieve economic growth, improved environmental outcomes and greater social responsibility. 

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