As we all know, the UK will go to the polls for the General Election on 8th June. The election may have taken everyone by surprise, but with just a few weeks to go until polling day there is no time to waste when it comes to putting pubs and beer firmly on the agenda for the next Parliament.
With Brexit dominating every source of news, the opportunities and threats facing the brewing and pubs industry needs to be at the centre stage of all conversations. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, the election and subsequent negotiations to leave the European Union provides a unique opportunity to rewrite some of the tax rules that have a significant impact on the beer and pubs industry – an industry that supports nearly 900,000 jobs and contributes £23.1bn to the UK economy annually.
This is why CAMRA has launched a campaign last week to get as many election candidates as possible to #pledgeforpubs. CAMRA’s 187,000 members across the UK will be lobbying candidates over the next month to pledge to celebrate and promote Britain’s breweries, support action to help pubs thrive and to represent the interests of pub-goers, beer and cider drinkers.
Specifically, our Manifesto outlines how the next Parliament can use the Brexit negotiations to secure a better deal for beer drinkers and pub-goers, whilst also protecting the industry from any adverse impacts from the negotiations. We will be asking candidates to lobby for the removal of a number of European restrictions to allow the UK Government to better support beer and pubs, such as extending duty reductions for low strength beers and reducing duty rates for draught beer sold in pubs, clubs and bars.
Furthermore, we’d like to see a range of measures introduced over the next Parliament to help reduce the huge tax burden facing UK brewers and publicans to ensure that pub-going and beer drinking remains an affordable activity. As part of this, we want to see the current business rates discounts for pubs in England increased to £5,000 and made permanent, as well as a beer duty freeze for the whole of the next Parliament.
However, we are also concerned that Brexit may bring a certain amount of risk to the industry. We are therefore asking Government to take steps to identify any potentially adverse impacts on the UK’s beer and pub sector and put in place measures to address them as they arise. We are also asking that current benefits enjoyed by the industry, such as Small Breweries’ Relief and duty exemption for small cider producers, remains untouched in the next Parliament.
In the 2015 General Election, CAMRA persuaded 1,160 candidates to pledge support for beer and pubs. As a result of this campaigning, we had 211 MPs who had promised to speak up in Parliament. This has paid huge dividends – we’ve seen successes with a beer duty freeze in 2016, support for pubs facing high business rate bills and most recently on planning protection for pubs in England.
We are therefore calling on publican, brewers, pub-goers and beer lovers to come together to promote and protect the great British pub ahead of the election. With so much at stake this election, we need to cut through the noise to keep pubs on the agenda over the next Parliament.
Want to get involved?
You can write to your election candidate simply by visiting www.camra.org.uk/pledgeforpubs..
If you’re on social media, make sure to thank your candidates on Twitter and Facebook by using the hashtag #pledgeforpubs and #ge2017 when they confirm support. You can also upload a short video at the pub about why candidates should pull together for beer and pubs this election and tweet @CAMRA_Official.