Government Agenda Lacks Action for Pubs and Brewers in Kings Speech

Sector leaders have expressed disappointment after the government failed to address the pressing issues the hospitality and licensed on-trade sector.

This year’s King’s Speech, delivered on 7 November, focused on growing the economy, strengthening society and crime reduction. Health-specific announcements included tackling smoking by raising the age of sale for tobacco products and implementing the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, both of which we support and look forward to supporting as plans develop.

The promise to raise the age of sale for tobacco products, effectively eliminating smoking for the next generation, is an ambitious and bold health policy that has so far only been implemented in one other country. While there is further to go, we welcome this announcement as a vital first step in moving to a smoke-free generation.

However industry spokespeople have criticised the government’s lack of support during these challenging times.

Commenting on the King’s Speech, CAMRA Chairman Nik Antona said: “It is disappointing that the Government’s agenda for the coming parliamentary session makes no reference to supporting pubs, brewers, or the wider hospitality industry.

“Earlier this year, in light of the tragic case of the Crooked House in Himley, CAMRA published data showing that potentially unlawful pub demolitions and conversions continue to take place.

“The King’s Speech was an opportunity for the Government to make a firm commitment to pub protection and announce legislation to bolster the planning enforcement tools available to local authorities to deter unscrupulous developers from flouting planning rules.

“Unfortunately, we are still uncertain about whether the Government will act, and they have already ruled out making legislative changes to the Pubs Code, to better balance the relationship between pub companies and their tenants, and to improve consumer choice in the tied pub estate.

“Looking ahead to the Autumn Statement, we hope that the Chancellor will take urgent action on energy supply and pricing issues, business rates relief and cutting red tape preventing draught takeaway sales from taking place.”

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said:

“The King’s Speech kicks off a crucial session of Parliament for hospitality businesses, at a challenging time for many and with a General Election looming.

“Of the bills outlined by the King today, the carryover of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill will be important in tackling the scourge of fake reviews. While there is, rightly, a clear focus on consumers, we are continuing to urge the Government to ensure there are measures included to also protect businesses affected.

“Further developments around Martyn’s Law will be especially relevant for hospitality venues. The announcement of a new consultation on the standard tier, for venues with a capacity of 100 to 799 people, is positive and we will continue to make the case for proportionate and practical measures that work effectively for both businesses and their customers.

“With the speech noting the Government’s commitment to pursuing free trade deals, we will continue to make the case for Youth Mobility Schemes to be included as part of those deals and for the Government to pursue stand-alone agreements with appropriate nations.

“The King’s address featured the emphasis on continuing to improve the economic outlook for the nation and our sector continues to look towards the Autumn Statement for action on other critical areas for hospitality businesses.

“Most pressing is the looming rise in business rates next April, which will drop an almost-billion pound bill on the sector. An extension of relief and a freeze in the multiplier is essential for the sector to continue doing what it does best – creating jobs, driving economic growth and investing in communities.”