Are election pledges made to be kept any more, or just to lull us into getting our vote and be abandoned once a party is in power?
The Conservatives have promised to do more to keep pubs open if they triumph on December 12. It’s part of a package of measures to also save high streets and post offices, as well as re-connect more places to the rail network.
The pledge has been broadly welcomed. SIBA’s chief executive, James Calder, said: “Taking business rate relief from 33% to 50% will be a huge boost for pubs and the brewing sector.
“Pubs owned by their communities is a model that is proven, so keeping more pubs in the hands of local people is also to be welcomed.”
He added: “We’d like to see the Conservative party go further and commit to helping small brewers on their business rates bills. Within the valuations system, large and global brewers premises are classed as ‘specialist’, whereas small brewers’ premises are classed as general manufacturing.
“This means that, per pint of beer, the business rates paid by small, independent brewers is significantly greater than that of their global competitors, who have economies of scale independent’s do not.”
Commitment to funding
Nik Antona, CAMRA’s national chairman, said: “It is good to see a commitment to introduce funding to help communities acquire assets of community value, as well as extending the time they have to raise funds and put together a bid.
“There are over 100 pubs around the country that are now community owned, and these pubs are more likely to stay open and provide other vital local services.
“The new pub business rates relief is also a welcome first step, but it does little to address the fundamental issue that pubs are unfairly treated under the current business rates system.
“That is why we are calling for a full review of business rates to ensure the continued survival of our pubs. Now, we hope to see other parties outline how they intend to support pubs if they form the next government.”
Emma McClarkin, new chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Pubs are the heart of our communities, so this commitment to ease the burden of business rates is welcome. Three pubs a day close their doors for good due to the tax pressures they face.
“On business rates alone, pubs pay 2.8% of the business rates bill, despite accounting for just 0.5% of turnover. Reducing rates for pubs is an important step in the right direction. Such reliefs are vital until the fundamentally unfair system is overhauled.
“Investment is the lifeblood of community pubs, so it is important that measures to bolster the rights of individual communities to purchase pubs do not act as a disincentive to investment. Given that seven in ten alcoholic drinks sold in a pub are beer, the most direct way of keeping pubs viable is to cut beer duty.”
The BBPA has its own seven-point manifesto, asking all political parties to commit to support UK beer and pubs by:
- Implementing a real-terms cut in beer duty over the course of the next Parliament
- Backing the 200,000-plus supporters of the Long Live the Local campaign
- Addressing the unfairness of the business rates system
- Recognising the growing cost burden of pub businesses
- Not adding further burdensome regulation to the beer and pub sector
- Providing greater flexibility to promote and market lower strength beer
- Enabling a trading relationship with the EU that allows for the seamless movement of beer
It welcomed Boris Johnson’s commitment, in a speech to the CBI, to cut business rates and national insurance contributions.