The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has today commented on new pub closure data released by Altus Group. According to the data, almost 1,000 UK pubs closed in 2018 – a rate of 76 pubs a month. This was down from 138 closures a month during the previous seven years. Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, comments: “It is great that pub closures decreased last year, and Altus Group is right that the Government’s support on business rates for smaller pubs has helped ease the decline. “However, too many pubs are still closing because of huge tax pressures from elsewhere, especially from eye-wateringly high beer duty and VAT, so we cannot be complacent. “On a typical pint we pay 46 pence in beer duty and cutting this is one of the best ways to help pubs. Pubs pay on average £140,000 in tax each year. This is why we support the Long Live the Local campaign, which is calling for a cut in beer tax, and as the BBPA we continue to ask for more help on business rates.”
A version of this blog originally appeared in Propel Hospitality. Last week was English Tourism Week. As a sector that directly and indirectly contributes £106bn in GDP and supports 2.6 million jobs, it was a fitting occasion to recognise the vital contribution tourism makes to the UK, both economically and culturally. The Tourism Alliance, which represents more than 50 trade associations crucial to England’s tourism offer, including the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), kicked off English Tourism Week with an annual conference I was privileged to attend. The highlight of the conference was hearing minister for tourism Michael Ellis speak so highly of the sector and the importance of investment in businesses that drive visitors to popular tourist destinations, whether staycationers or from overseas. Michael noted how the Discover England Fund has an important role to play in this, as do the Coastal Communities Fund and Future High Streets Fund, all showing the UK is open for business and a great place for tourists. On the day of yet another Brexit vote, it was fitting Michael emphasised how important our reputation for hospitality excellence is when attracting visitors from around the world. More significantly, Michael suggested we are close to getting a sector deal for tourism over the line. In a week that also saw a House of Lords Select Committee report recommend the government should press ahead with this deal, English Tourism Week was a good time to announce this. The perennial elephant in the room when it comes to tourism and hospitality businesses is, of course, business rates so it was fitting we held a panel session during the conference to discuss its impact. From pubs, restaurants and hotels to historic houses and leisure attractions – the businesses key to English tourism’s success story all require physical properties to operate and face an unfair business rate burden. Numbers surrounding the business rates that tourism and hospitality businesses face make uncomfortable reading. Following the 2017 rates revaluation, South West Tourism Alliance saw a rates increase of between 43% and 71% for professional self-caterers with more than 13 beds. BBPA research reveals pubs pay 2.7% of the entire business rates bill despite accounting for only 0.5% of business turnover. The current business rates system is clearly obsolete and needs a complete overhaul. The damage it is doing to our pubs and the wider hospitality sector – particularly when combined with other major tax burdens such as beer duty – is a huge concern for what is a crucial part of England’s tourism offer. At the end of English Tourism Week I settled down for a pub lunch with Mims Davies, minister for sport with responsibilities for gambling and tackling loneliness. At the Good Companions in Eastleigh, a wonderful example of an English pub, the struggle against the tax burden hospitality businesses such as pubs face felt real indeed. Dan and Claire, who lease the pub from Star Pubs & Bars, offer exceptional food and drink. Dan was recently elected to the board of the local Business Improvement District to ensure a vibrant but safe nightlife in Eastleigh – something that’s crucial for all tourist hot spots. Beyond this, Dan and Claire take part in various initiatives to help tackle loneliness in the community. Hospitality businesses including pubs such as the Good Companions are vital in driving economic growth through job creation and attracting visitors to an area to spend their money. Beyond this they also have a clear role in tackling loneliness, which is so important to our mental health and community cohesion. Cuts to business rates and beer duty would go a long way in helping pubs specifically but also supporting the hospitality sector as a whole and the vital role it plays in England’s tourism offer. A sector deal for tourism remains essential. Let’s hope the minister for tourism is right in saying it’s almost in our grasp.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has today responded to the publication of new guidance by the Pubs Code Adjudicator (PCA) for beer wastage allowances. The new guidance was published on Wednesday 10th April and comes into effect from Monday 1st July. It seeks to give greater transparency to publicans on the inclusion of wastage allowances in their rent calculations. The new guidance comes after the PCA consulted the industry on the matter at the end of 2018. Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, comments: “Brewers and pub operators have always made allowances for beer wastage to account for beer that can’t be sold. The BBPA therefore supported the PCA’s proposals to make these clearer and more transparent. “Unfortunately, in the new guidance, the PCA has increased the complexity of how allowances should be calculated and presented. This may confuse, rather than help, publicans. It will also lead to higher administrative costs and complexity for pub operators, who will need to modify their systems to reflect the greater detail now required. “The new guidance acknowledges that there could be situations where third party suppliers are unable to provide pub operators with all of the information they require.”