The hospitality industry is facing challenges because of Brexit uncertainty, British Beer and Pub Association chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, told the Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee.
The committee was taking evidence on High Streets and Town Centres in 2030, and Ms Simmonds noted that consumers were tightening their purse strings as a result of food inflation brought on my Brexit.
She also talked about how business rates cumulatively affect pubs who are paying around 4% of their turnover in business rates alone — more than any other sector according to a recent report by Oxford Economics.
Pubs pay 2.8% of the total business rates bill while accounting for just 0.5% of rateable turnover — an overpayment of £500m.
It was not all negative, though. Ms Simmonds also spoke about the decreasing value of the pound, explaining how this has led to an increase in tourists visiting the UK, which has boosted pubs on the high street, with as many as seven in ten overseas tourists visiting a pub while in the UK.
Long Live the Local
She flagged the Long Live the Local campaign by Britain’s Beer Alliance, which is backed by microbreweries, regional and national pub chains, the British Beer and Pub Association and global breweries.
The campaign is calling for a cut in beer duty in the upcoming Budget, and so far more than 97,000 people have signed its petition to cut beer tax, with a further 40,000 people also writing to their MP.
A number of MPs on the committee had already seen the campaign at Westminster tube station, and all have received letters from their constituents.
Ms Simmonds said: “The high street is an important part of any town or city in the UK, but it is struggling. The answers are not only about tax — there are some great examples of best practice from the Great British High Street’s competition, which all point to local leadership, partnerships, understanding your local market and events.
“There is a pub on every high street, but as an industry they face considerable cost pressures from a range of sources, particularly high beer duty, unfair business rates and VAT.”
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