Thursday 26 November 2009

Back the pub

The 'Axe the Tax' campaign has been relaunched as 'Back the Pub' campaign.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) are therefore launching a new campaign – “I’m backing the pub” – calling on consumers, publicans, politicians and all who value the British beer and the British pub to sign up in support.
The manifesto will be launched tonight in Westmister, in the Westminster Arms.
The manifesto, called “The life and soul of Britain’s communities”, calls on the Government to reverse the 8 per cent increase in duty on beer imposed at the time of the VAT cut last January when VAT returns to its 17.5 per cent rate on 1 January 2010, and to scrap plans to increase duty by 2 per cent above inflation in the Budget in March next year.

The other main findings of the opinion poll carried out by ComRes last weekend are:

• 80 per cent of all people think that the pub is an important symbol of the British way of life. This is true across the board and particularly high among people aged 65 or over (86%) and for people aged 45-54 (85%).

• 71 per cent of people think that more needs to be done to support and promote the British pub.

• 77 per cent think that pubs in Britain make a valuable contribution to the economy

• 74 per cent of all people think that the planned increase in the tax on beer and pubs next March is not justified.

• 67 per cent of all people agree that Government policy should encourage people to choose lower strength alcohol drinks like beer, and 74 per cent support a policy of lower taxation for lower strength drinks like beer.

• 65% of all people think that the proportion (one third) of the price of a pint of beer that goes to the tax man is “too high” and in line with this, 74% of all people think that the planned increase in the tax on beer and pubs next March is not justified. People in social groups AB (28%) and C1 (25%) are the most likely to think that this potential increase is justified. Having said this, one quarter of all people (24%) say that tax increases will cause them to visit their local pub less often.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said:

“There is a clear and compelling public consensus amongst the British people that the pub is a vital part of their community and the social and economic character of Britain. This is coupled with deep concern at the record number of pub closures we are witnessing today and a resounding call for action to support the British pub.

“It is time for a concerted effort by government, industry and all those who value the pub to work together to adopt and implement policies to promote the great British pub.

“The manifesto we are publishing today sets out a range of policies which could make a real difference. We are therefore calling on all – including politicians and political parties - to back this agenda and to pledge their support for our ‘I’m backing the pub’ campaign.”

Julian Grocock, chief executive of SIBA, said:

“Pubs are an integral part of Britain's rich culture, our national heritage, and the life of our communities. Reducing duty on a low strength drink like beer would be a good start in helping to promote a unique British product, supporting a unique British institution, and launching an effective strategy to encourage responsible drinking in controlled and convivial surroundings."

Among comments included in the industry manifesto, Richard Lambert, Director-General, CBI, said:

“The British Beer and Pub Association highlights some key priorities for the beer and pub trade and companies at large, including lowering the tax burden and ensuring levels of regulation do not hinder the business environment.”

Feargal Sharkey, CEO, UK Music, said:

“The combination of pub and music can knit local communities together. It is vital that such a network exists, and for the sake of future creativity it is something we must continue to protect, nurture and encourage.”

Sandie Dawe, chief executive of Visit Britain, said:

“The pub is at the heart of the community; a place to champion great local food and drink; a community hub; a job and wealth creator for the local economy.”

Download the manifesto "The Life and Soul of Britain's Communities" here (pdf)

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