Autumn Statement - pub industry reacts

23/11/2016 - 14:43
Trade bodies from across the pub industry have reacted to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

There was welcome relief that beer duty was not raised and that a number of business rates reliefs have been announced, but the bodies called for more fundamental changes to be made.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said: “The lowering of transitional relief caps and the increase in rural relief is welcome, but this still falls far short of the wholesale change that many businesses are looking for and that some will need in order to invest and grow.

“The Government has indicated that further announcements on rates are to be made by DCLG and we hope that this will provide better news and a more productive step towards tackling rates bills that are a serious difficulty for many businesses.

“The increase to the rate of National living Wage is lower than previously forecasted and will put money back in the pockets of our customers, but will still tighten margins for businesses and some will struggle to afford it.

“If wage rates are to be affordable and equitable, the Government must step away from a policy-driven rate and ensure that any increases are independently set by the Low Pay Commission reflecting the economic landscape.”

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, added: “We understand action to help those on low pay, but given the current economic uncertainty there is a real need to look at the cost pressures facing pubs. Increases in the National Minimum Wage and Living Wage represent challenges for our sector, particularly in pubs, where labour costs are high, at between 14 and 25 per cent of operating costs.

“The doubling of Rural Rate Relief provides a welcome correction to an anomaly that would have penalised rural pubs, with pubs that qualify now able to claim 100 per cent relief on their business rates through the rural relief scheme.

“Whilst we support the reduction in the cap on transitional rate relief, the BBPA and other industry bodies had written to the Chancellor calling for broader support on business rates, prior to his announcement today. We want to see enhanced relief for pubs that will be hit hardest by the 2017 revaluation, and an overall review of how rates impact on Britain’s pubs.

“There have been no increases in beer duty rates, which is welcome, but duty accounts for up to 50 per cent of the costs of a UK brewer and remains a concern for the industry. Our rate of beer duty in Britain is considerably higher than all other major European brewing nations, and we are now calling on the Chancellor to cut beer duty in the 2017 Spring Budget, and tackle the unfair burden it places on Britain’s beer drinkers, publicans and brewers.

Finally, Colin Valentine, the Campaign for Real Ale national chairman, said: “CAMRA welcomes the Chancellor’s decision not to raise beer duty in the Autumn Statement.

“Pubs are under a huge amount of financial pressure and with UK beer drinkers paying 52.2p of duty on their pint we are seeing more and more people choosing to drink at home rather than at their local. This trend not only hurts UK businesses, but is also contributing to the demise of our communities and affects people’s personal wellbeing.

 “While a freeze in beer duty is welcome, CAMRA would like to see the Government do more to reverse the damage done by the beer duty escalator by cutting duty in the 2017 Budget.”

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