Too little, too late Rishi

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Empty election promises miss the mark for pubs

Related tags Government Legislation Pub & bar Rishi Sunak Licensing

It’s amazing what an election can bring to the table!

Rishi Sunak, the leader of the previous Government, you know, the one that has roundly ignored the hospitality industry’s cries for support and reform, has been setting out his stall offering support for “pubs, bars, theatres and restaurants”.

It’s funny how the offer of support and help comes at a time when his party is facing potential annihilation in the upcoming general election.

Rishi was hailed as a knight in shining armour during the pandemic, riding to the rescue of the pub sector with millions of pounds worth of support, offering vital lifelines at a time when the sector desperately needed it.

However, he then got back on his horse and trotted off, ignoring all subsequent pleas for tax reform and relief to enable that initial support to not simply be a case of delaying the inevitable.

But wait, he’s back, and while the horse might be slightly worse for wear (alright, it’s pretty much lame, arthritic and hobbling) we can rest assured that Rishi has his finger on the pulse and he’s going to listen this time and implement real change, and not just say what he thinks we want to hear in a desperate bid to cling onto power for a few more years…

Apparently he’s going to solve the crisis by reviewing licensing laws, planning rules and other “red tape” which remains unspecified, none of which the sector is asking for to help solve its current crisis. So we’ll be able to open later for customers that don’t want to come, and build new pubs with money we don’t have.

Rishi would be better off looking to reform business rates, lower VAT and maybe allow more flexible movement of workers to help solve the recruitment challenges businesses are facing.

Of course, he could promise the moon on a stick, but barring a last minute shocker akin to Hungary crushing the hopes and dreams of Scottish hearts, it’s probably all academic.

Meanwhile, the current front runners in the election are dangling carrots in the pub sector’s direction despite failing to mention pubs once in their recent manifesto, which doesn’t exactly offer a massive amount of confidence.

Labour has committed to replacing the current business rates system, but has shied away from adding details. At the same time it is looking to reform the national minimum wage which could increase wage costs for pubs. They giveth with one hand…

Despite all this, the Labour party remains the favourite for the pub sector ahead of the election, according to our MA snap poll, but it’s not a runaway success with 31% backing Labour and 25% backing the Tories.

So maybe Rishi will be able to ride that pony once again? You’ll have your chance to have your say on 4 July.

Related topics Legislation

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