The All-party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG)'s inquiry into pubs’ business rates was launched on 1 February 2022. Following receipt of written evidence an oral evidence gathering session was held on 23rd February. The report was published on 21st March 2022.
The impact of business rates on pubs’ operations in England and the efficacy of the valuation process and appeals system;
The fairness of business rates on a sectoral basis;
The impact of the Government’s current proposals for reform.
And to explore:
Hospitality as a catalyst for inward investment, high street regeneration and employment and skills growth;
Options for business rates reform to recognise this and pubs’ wider contribution locally and nationally, including rebalancing the burden of business rates between the digital and physical economies.
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, Beer Tax Fraud 2012, Unlocking Pubs’ Potential 2020 and Caskenomics: the future of cask beer 2021.
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”.
The All Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG) report into the future of cask beer was launched on 2 June 2021, calling on the Government to deliver urgent support to save pubs and breweries.
The report highlights the devastating impact of the Covid pandemic on pubs and the wider hospitality sector – and correspondingly on the sales of cask and draught beer. Recommendations include:
Government to reduce the overall burden on brewers and pubs through lower overall duty, VAT and business rates and to urgently consider the specific merits of a lower rate of duty for on-sales of draught beers to encourage footfall back into pubs
Government must stick to the roadmap for reopening and run a public information campaign to restore consumer confidence that pubs are safe
Government to consider targeted COVID debt-forgiveness and measures to ameliorate the impact of crown debt
Industry to convene a working group to capitalise on the possibilities for cask beers as an environmentally friendly, locally focussed, premium and uniquely British product
Government to incentivise and/or support investment in the UK’s hop sector, to tide it over a period of unprecedented uncertainty.
The attached video clip is of Mike Wood MP, the then Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group with Kelly McCarthy, the licensee of Ye Old Sun Inn near Tadcaster who gave evidence to the Inquiry.
A virtual hearing was held on 15 April 2021, chaired by Mike Wood MP.
The following witnesses gave evidence:
Emma Gilleland, Director of Brewing at Carlsberg Marston's Brewing Company
Ed Mason, Managing Director at Five Points Brewing Company
Jonathan Neame, Chief Executive of Shepherd Neame
Phil Tate, Group Chief Executive, CGA
Peter Brown, Beer writer
Ellie Hudspith, Senior Campaigns Manager CAMRA
Dr Pau Salsas, Managing Consultant, Europe Economics
Evidence was requested on any aspect of brewing, supplying, selling or consuming cask beer, and particularly on the experiences of the past 12 months. The following written evidence was received by the inquiry panel and can be downloaded here:
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.