The past few days have seen the main political parties publish their election manifestos. While measures relating to the brewing and pubs industries may have taken a back seat to Brexit, pensions and the NHS, there have been a few nods to an industry that supports nearly 90,000 jobs and contributes £23.1bn to the UK economy annually.
Ahead of the election, CAMRA is asking candidates to #pledgeforpubs by backing measures to support the beer and pubs industry and which represent the interests of consumers. So far, more than 380 have pledged their support.
On Tuesday CAMRA welcomed elements of the Labour manifesto, which labelled itself as the manifesto “for the many, not the few” – a slogan that could be easily attributed to pubs, one of the most accessible places for socialising across the UK. Labour has committed to review business rates, which place an unacceptable burden on pubs. They currently pay 2.8% of all business rates while only accounting for 0.5% of the total business turnover.
The Liberal Democrats also offer some pro-pub policies in their manifesto. The party recognises the important role of pubs in thriving rural communities and makes a commitment to strengthen good public transportation links, which is absolutely vital to the sustainability of our rural pubs. The Liberal Democrats have also promised to reduce the business rate burden on small firms, which could throw a lifeline to pubs.
Finally, the Conservatives released their long-awaited manifesto on Thursday. Within it, they, like the Liberal Democrats and Labour, have recognised the business rate system is harming small businesses and have committed not to increase VAT. As with the other two manifestos, this will certainly be welcomed by pubs struggling with an unmanageably high tax burden.
The Conservatives have also committed any undertakings made during takeovers and mergers should, in future, be legally binding. CAMRA applauds this move, particularly in light of the takeover of Charles Wells’ brewery by Marston’s, which was announced last week. It is important that companies are held to their promises and public statements so consumers are not unfairly misled.
CAMRA is continuing to seek support from candidates across all parties on wider issues, ranging from a hard commitment to give every pub a tax break of £5,000 off their business rates to explore the opportunities presented by Brexit by allowing for greater tax cuts on low strength beer and on beer sold in pubs versus supermarkets.
Already many of our Parliamentary candidates standing in constituencies across the South Herts branch area have pledged their support but there are still many to go. You can find out which of your local candidates have signed up and easily lobby those who haven’t by visiting www.camra.org.uk/pledgeforpubs