The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has responded to the 2019 Spring Statement.
Brigid Simmonds, BBPA's Chief Executive, commented, “Despite being light on detail, there was some encouraging news for brewers and pubs in the Spring statement.
“Bringing forward reforms to apprenticeship schemes worth £700million to April - including increased ability to transfer apprenticeship funding into the supply chain and reduce the co-investment rate to 5% - is a welcome move for pubs, brewers and the hospitality sector as a whole.
'These sectors have seen the number of apprentices soar in recent years, with 165,000 people starting apprenticeships in hospitality and catering between 2013 and 2018. It will also help companies operating in the leased and tenanted pub sector who could not use their apprenticeship levy in pubs that they own, but where they are not the individual employer.'
Simmonds continued, “A review of international evidence of minimum wage rates was announced alongside a roundtable, which will be chaired by the Chancellor himself with a view to improving productivity. It is imperative that this also looks at minimum wage enforcement and the current lack of industry guidance which is penalising responsible operators.
“The Chancellor reiterated his commitment to consulting with industry on the Migration Bill, promising to work with business to ensure the new system “supports the needs of the economy”. This is vital for the hospitality and pub sector and so is most welcome.
“Pubs are at the heart of the high street offer, giving them vitality and character. We therefore welcome the proposed consultation exploring how local areas can make better use of planning tools to support their high streets.
“With the number of pubs falling in the UK due to planned increases to beer duty – which are linked to RPI – we have called consistently for RPI to be switched to CPI when measuring inflation. The Chancellor made clear that the Government would respond to the House of Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee report, which also recommended the switch.'
Simmonds concluded, “The OBR expects economic growth and job growth to continue and as one of Britain’s leading sectors, brewing and pubs continue to play a key role in driving these. If there is to be any “deal dividend” from Brexit, then it should be used to help important UK businesses like pubs and brewers, as well as pub goers. For example, a cut in beer tax and reform of the business rates system which currently unfairly penalises pubs.”