The Prime Minister’s objective of providing business with certainty in the wake of the publication of the Great Repeal Bill has been welcomed by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).
It believes the powers in the Bill present opportunities for the government to look at EU regulations that could be amended and improved to help the hospitality and brewing sector once Britain has left the EU.
Chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, said the decision to leave the European Union presented the government with an opportunity to stimulate the brewing sector, by fostering a more competitive rate of tax for beer and pubs, that both supports beer as a low-strength alcoholic option, and supports the pub as a responsible environment for drinking.
The BBPA is also calling for the tax threshold for low-alcohol beer to be raised from its current level of 2.8% ABV to 3.5%, a measure not currently permitted under EU law. The association feels this would encourage innovation in lower-strength products.
Ms Simmonds said: “Furthermore, there are opportunities to amend current EU VAT regulation to look at a VAT rate specifically for the pub sector, as currently all the advantages are with supermarket meals which do not incur VAT. For example, a drop in the rate of VAT to 15% for pub meals could create 78,000 jobs and be a big boost for the economy.
“Aside from regulation, there are other outstanding issues that the government needs to address. Over the last nine months, we have consistently called on the government to provide clarity for our members, particularly around the status of foreign nationals and their right to remain in the UK.
“As 17% of workers in our pubs are not UK nationals, with that figure rising to over 40% in metropolitan areas, it’s important that these workers’ status with regards to remaining in the UK is clarified.”
She added: “The government’s ongoing commitment to a free trade deal with the EU is also welcome. Exports are vital to our industry, worth £583 million in 2016 and 63% of beer exports go to the EU. Whilst beer is not subject to tariffs under World Trade Organisation rules, the raw materials used in brewing are…
“As the Repeal Bill goes through its Parliamentary process, there will be opportunities to remove more of the red tape that membership of the EU has imposed on businesses. One example might be the targets for packing waste legislation. The BBPA is ready for detailed discussions with individual government departments to ensure that any amended legislation works for our sector.”