The All Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG) today launches an inquiry into the future of cask beer.
Businesses, organisations and individuals are invited to submit evidence. A cross-party panel of MPs and Peers will scrutinise the evidence and hear from expert witnesses, before publishing a report in the Spring with recommendations for Government action.
The panel is particularly interested to explore the impact of the Covid -19 pandemic on sales of cask ale, and the pressures the sector faces as UK pubs reopen over the coming months.
Launching the inquiry, APPBG chair Mike Wood MP (Con, Dudley South) said: “Real Ale is unique to the UK, central to our brewing heritage and extraordinarily dependent on pubs for its sales. The lockdown caused an unprecedented fall in volumes, which were down over 60% in 2020. This has had a widespread impact, as for many brewers, cask ale makes up a large proportion of their output. The revival of sales is vital to their commercial future and we want to understand how best this can be ensured.”
“The fortunes of cask beer are dependent on two things: pubs reopening successfully and consumers being confident that it safe to go out. We look forward to hearing from operators on the pressures they face, and to considering what actions will best enable cask beer to recover from this national crisis.”
All party groups lack the formal scrutiny powers of a Select Committee but a group may consider any matter which falls within its remit.
MPs call on Government to see pubs as solution not problem
A report published today (26 February 2020) 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.