I am not surprised that I have received a number of emails highlighting the Long Live the Local campaign due to the many pubs in our constituency, and the affection that we have for our local pub. I suspect that many of us are mindful that for many months, pubs were shut due to Covid 19 lockdown measures, and I am aware that the hospitality sector (including pubs) have faced acute difficulties throughout this wretched pandemic.
What am I doing at Westminster:
- I have sought some background information from the House of Commons Library and their team of independent researchers to understand the ideas behind the campaign further, including the fiscal impact of these measures.
- I have already written to the Treasury to raise the economic aspects of the campaign for the consideration of Ministers.
- I have written to the Business Minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy about the issue of business rates, as well as the ongoing conversations that the Government is having with the hospitality sector to recover from the pandemic.
If you wish for sight of the responses that I receive from the Treasury and Business Ministers, please let me know and I will respond accordingly.
Government Work in this Area:
As I have already suggested, I do not underestimate the challenges that our local hospitality sector (including pubs) have faced during the last eighteen months or so. I also understand that the challenges may continue for time to come, but I feel it is helpful to acknowledge what is being done already by the Government:
- There has been a temporary cut in VAT from 20 per cent to 5 per cent for all food and non-alcoholic drinks, which has been extended until the end of September and will be followed by a 12.5 per cent rate until 31 March 2022.
- In 2013, the Government took the decision to end the beer duty escalator, and beer duty has been frozen or cut several times since then.
- Duty on spirits has been frozen over the past two years. As a result of these changes, a typical pint is cheaper than it would have been had these measures not been introduced.
- I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement that, for the second year running, alcohol duties will be frozen, covering duty on spirits, beer, wine, and cider which will save drinkers £1.7 billion.
I am watching this matter carefully and I look forward to receiving responses from the Treasury and Business Ministers, and will seek to make further interventions in the Chamber. However, if you have any queries in the meantime, please get in touch.