The All Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG)'s inquiry into the future potential of pubs ran through the summer and autumn of 2019. Businesses, organisations and individuals with an interest in the potential of this vital part of the UK were invited to submit evidence. More than 20 organisations responded and 14 witnesses gave evidence in person.
APPBG Chair Mike Wood MP (Con, Dudley South) co-chaired the inquiry with the Beer Group Vice Chair Ruth Smeeth (then Lab MP, Stoke-on-Trent North).
The general election of December 2019 delayed publication of the report. It will now be launched on Wednesday 26 February 2020.
All party groups lack the formal scrutiny powers of a Select Committee but a group may consider any matter which falls within its remit. Previous inquiries by the APPBG include: Beer Tax 1995, Licensing Law Reform 1999, Community Pubs 2008 and Beer Tax Fraud 2012.
Parliamentary inquiry launched and call for evidence
The All Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG) has announced an inquiry into the future of UK pubs and invites businesses, organisations and individuals with an interest in the potential of this vital part of the UK to submit evidence.
The cross-party panel of MPs and Peers will be inquiring into the contribution of pubs to their local communities, local economies and local wellbeing; they will examine the changing competitive environment in which pubs operate; and they will explore opportunities to boost pubs’ potential through tax and regulatory change.
Launching the inquiry, APPBG chair Mike Wood MP (Con, Dudley South) said: “Despite the closures, pubs remain a vital part of communities across the country. We want to take stock of what’s working and what needs to change to help them thrive. The All Party Parliamentary Beer Group has a long and proud tradition of promoting the UK’s pubs; we intend this inquiry to explore how they’re a force for good and to find out what can be done further to unlock their potential.”
The inquiry intends to start hearing evidence in May, reporting in October. It will be co-chaired by Ruth Smeeth MP (Lab, Stoke-on-Trent North) who said: “We’ve got a great opportunity to explore policy options post Brexit and I’m looking forward to hearing how we can best give our pubs a secure footing for the future. Everyone’s got their favourite pub story to tell - whether it be it infuriating red tape or priceless community life line - so let’s find out what could work better, what’s not yet been tried, and what we as Parliamentarians can do to ensure the future vibrancy of our country’s pubs.”
Anyone wishing to submit written evidence to the inquiry should email Paul Hegarty, Hon Secretary, APPBG at paul@beergroup,co.uk by 10th May.
All-party groups lack the formal scrutiny powers of a Select Committee but a group may consider any matter which falls within its remit. Previous inquiries by the APPBG include: Beer Tax 1995, Licensing Law Reform 1999, Community Pubs 2008 and Beer Tax Fraud 2012.
The APPBG was established in 1993 and is one of the largest APP groups. Its objectives are "To broaden recognition of the enormous contribution of brewing and pubs to the UK economy from grain to glass - and to celebrate the unique role that beer and pubs play in our society”.
Wednesday 19 June, 4-6pm: Polly Mackenzie, Demos; Peter Martin, CGA/Peach; Dr Thomas Thurnell-Read, Loughborough University; Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council; Katie Bland, Bird in Bush, Elsdon; Sacha Lord, Manchester night time economy adviser.
Tuesday 25 June, 5-7pm: Katy Moses, KAM Media; Suzanne Baker, Stonegate; Mandy McNeil, Save St Albans Pubs; Tanya Williams, BII licensee of the year.
Tuesday 2 July, 3-5pm: Pete Brown, Guild of Beer Writers; Adrian Cooper, Oxford Economics; Ellen Huspith, Camra; Kris Gumbrell, Brewhouse and Kitchen.
On 3rd October the panel visited three pubs in the Stoke area:
Golden Lion, Newcastle, ST5 1PS (Jim Fisher, area manager and Anthony Hughes, general manager)
Bod, Trentham, ST4 8GG (Keith Bott & Andy Slee, Titanic and Stephen Gould, Everards)
Plume of Feathers, Barlaston ST12 9DH (Richard Slingsby, Neil Morrissey Pub Company; Andy Wilkinson, Punch)
MPs call on Government to see pubs as solution not problem
A report published today (26 February) by Parliament’s largest cross-party issue group calls emphatically for the Government to wake up to the potential of pubs in boosting Britain’s economic and social wellbeing.
Ahead of the Budget, the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group urges policy makers to understand pubs’ potential in spearheading high street revival and delivering wide-ranging policy initiatives. The report calls for a fundamental review of business rates and a reduction in beer duty to release this potential for the sake of jobs, tourism and the cultural and social enrichment of Britons.
Launching the report, the group’s Chair, Mike Wood MP (Con, Dudley South) said: “As government charts a new course for national wellbeing, it’s time to wake up to the widespread initiatives pubs can help deliver.”
“During this Inquiry we heard how well-trained licensees are playing an unsung role in supporting the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities; pubs’ investments are regenerating employment and enterprise prospects around the country showing they can be a critical anchor in bringing left behind communities back to life. But if we’re to take full advantage of all that the nation’s pubs offer as a force for good, we must first tackle their disproportionate tax bills.”
Inquiry panellist and Labour peer, Lord Roy Kennedy, explained: “Pubs are one of the few remaining places where strangers can rub shoulders and trade opinions – a precious asset in an increasingly polarised society. They are also one of the unsung props of the UK’s social care system; helping tackle loneliness, providing meals for the elderly, coffee clubs for young mothers, and answering the needs of dementia carers.”
“We have an extraordinary community resource in our pubs: as community hubs, sports clubs, creative incubators, tourist attractions, fundraisers and as the ‘third place‘ in people’s lives. They’re the UK’s real ‘social networks’ but are paying 34% of their turnover in tax, compared to Facebook’s reported 1.7%. If government is looking for ways to boost hard hit communities and revive national wellbeing, our message is clear: act now to unleash pubs’ potential.”
“As our inquiry learnt, pubs are paying more in tax per pound of turnover than any other outlet on the high street and any other sector of the economy. These costs are then being compounded by competition from lower priced alcohol from supermarkets.”
Among its principal recommendations, the report calls for:
A review of business rates to consider how best to shift the burden of tax away from property-based businesses.
Pending the governments’ fundamental review of business rates, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) must be better resourced to understand pubs’ business models with additional resource dedicated to the appeals process until the current logjam has been cleared.
All pubs to be able to claim the first £52k in rate relief proposed for smaller pubs.
Government to seize the opportunity provided by Brexit to review both intent and impact of duty. The UK’s brewers are a leading manufacturing success story and its pubs are a crucial part of British culture, tourism and society. Government should assess tax and duty in a broad context including impacts on employment, stimulus for home grown products, for low carbon products and health considerations including responsible drinking and personal wellbeing.
Local authorities to understand pubs’ potential in regenerating high streets and communities, and to build mutually beneficial partnerships to maximise benefits.
The pubs sector and government to address outdated notions of employment possibilities under the auspices of the new Tourism Sector Deal.
For more information: Paul Hegarty, Honorary Secretary, All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, firstname.lastname@example.org or 07808 096250
Hard copies of the report are available from email@example.com.