The Wine and Spirit Trade Association and UKHospitality have welcomed the pledge announced today by the Conservative Party to support the UK’s pubs, but warned that support will need to go further.
The Conservative Party has today unveiled a package of support for high streets, including:
• A cut in business rates
• Powers and funding for community groups to buy local pubs
• Funding for the rail network.
Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:
“We welcome any commitment by politicians to help bolster the British pub. However, we urge the next Government to take a wider look at the whole UK hospitality sector – the third largest private-sector employer – which employs 3.2 million hard-working people and adds £130 billion to the UK economy.
“Together with UKHospitality, we are calling for a cut to all hospitality business rates – which would not only help pubs, but would also have a positive impact on the struggling high street where bars and restaurants are closing at an alarming rate due to crippling financial pressures.
“The WSTA and UKHospitality are also calling for a cut in Britain’s punishingly high wine and spirit duty which adds to the pressures facing the UK hospitality sector. High duty rates are bad for UK consumers, bad for UK businesses – especially SMEs – and bad for the Exchequer. Cutting duty is proven to increase revenue to the Exchequer.”
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality said:
“UKHospitality has been repeatedly calling for a cut in business rates for hospitality. The sector has been hammered by extortionate rates and high streets have declined as a result.
“The hospitality sector pays over £3 billion in business rates, 11% of the total UK rates bill. This is despite being responsible for 2.5% of eligible economic activity. If hospitality’s rates bill was fair it would be slashed by £2.4 billion.
“A cut for pubs is certainly very welcome and a great first step. Any future Government does need to realise that the problem is wider and affects the entire hospitality sector. This cut needs to go further and incorporate all hospitality businesses, and it needs to pave the way for wider reform of the whole system.”
Commenting on the community ownership and rail network proposals Nicholls said:
“Support for the rail network should provide a welcome boost for rural tourism. In the current climate some pubs, particularly in rural areas, struggle to survive on a commercial basis. We welcome initiatives to support local ownership which keeps pub at the heart of local communities, but many high street pubs will not benefit from these proposals. Measures to protect valuable pubs need to go even further.”