The ALMR published its 2014 manifesto today (4 June) to coincide with the state opening of Parliament and the Queen’s speech.
The manifesto pinpoints three top public policy priorities that it claimed would make an ‘immediate impact’ on its members ability to expand and improve:
- Ensuring local councils prioritise economic growth in planning and licencing decisions for pubs and bars
- Removing the competitive disadvantages in tax and regulatory regime that favour supermarkets - by reducing tax on eating and drinking out in the UK
- Encouraging responsible consumption in a supervised environment – and tackling the large quantities of cheap alcohol available through supermarkets and off licences
The manifesto also outlines potential solutions for the key problems facing the sector, including a change in how business rates are calculated, re-regulation of alcohol sales through supermarkets and off-licenses, a reduction in tourism and hospitality VAT, commercial lease reform, amended guidance on Late Night Levys and Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMROs) and a reduction regulatory burden for the hospitality industry.
Key economic sector
The manifesto will be sent to all MP’s, newly elected councillors, prospective candidates and police commissioners, and the ALMR is encouraging its members to promote it in the run up to the general election.
ALMR strategic affairs director, Kate Nicholls said: “Licensed hospitality is a key economic sector, one which created 1 in 8 of all new jobs over the past two years, but there is more which government can do to stimulate this.
“Pubs and bars face inconsistencies and demands which hamper their ability to grow and boost their local economies. The ALMR Manifesto provides clear information on the national scale and local importance of our industry for policy-makers and guidance on how we can encourage further growth, reduce regulatory burdens and free up our small businesses to do more.”
The government confirmed yesterday (3 June) that it will introduce a statutory code to govern the relationship between pub companies and tied tenants.
In the long-awaited response to its consultation on the code, the government said it will also appoint an independent adjudicator to oversee the code, who will have the power to introduce fines and will be funded by an industry levy.
The government rejected proposals to introduce a mandatory free-of-tie or market-rent only option, stating that it 'would have been likely to cause a high degree of uncertainty in the industry', which could result in closures and job losses.
It also ruled out the scrapping of the beer tie and introduction of a guest beer option, stating that the proposals carried ‘too great a potential to undermine the tied model as a whole’.
Trade bodies hailed the government announcement as the end of a long period of uncertainty for the UK pub industry, although opinions on the new plans were mixed.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), said her organisation was ‘disappointed’ that the government had introduced costly legislation, but said the rejection of a free-of-tie or guest beer option was a ‘great relief’ to the sector.
Other trade bodies, including the ALMR, British Institute of Innkeeping and Campaign for Real Ale, welcomed the introduction of the code, but stressed that it must be robust to have any meaningful impact for tenants.
Licensed hospitality jobs
According to the ALMR, the licensed hospitality industry - including pubs, bars and clubs - generated 37,000 new jobs in Britain last year, which is an impressive 7 per cent of all net new jobs in the UK.
In total, it employed 590,000 people directly and 450,000 indirectly, an 8 per cent growth on the previous year. Apprenticeship rates were also doubled in the industry last year, with many apprenticeship positions leading to permanent positions.
Looking for a job in a pub or bar? Check out our BigHospitality jobs board