Beer and pubs MPs address SIBA BeerXDelegates at BeerX, SIBA’s celebration of British beer in Sheffield, today welcomed Andrew Griffiths MP and Brandon Lewis MP as the first speakers at the event’s Industry Day.
The past year, said Lewis, had been a “fantastic year for beer” following the end of the beer duty escalator in the Budget of 2013 and he was pleased to be celebrating with SIBA’s members. He said, “In late 2013, the beer and pubs industry shifted its emphasis from saving the pub to celebrating the pub, and this more positive approach led to the success of the duty cut campaign.”
“The industry united to show government what it could achieve if duty were cut. And, since the last Budget, the industry has demonstrated that they delivered on what they promised, with investment in breweries and pubs, which has created employment. They have continued to communicate a positive message.”
Griffiths added, “One of the most successful aspects of the duty campaign was the widespread support from MPs, who had been briefed by their local brewer or publican on the issue. Local brewers did a great job in lobbying their MPs and it paid off.” Griffiths also thanked SIBA’s chairman – until yesterday – Keith Bott for his role in the duty cut.
The duty cut was, said Lewis, an acknowledgement from government of the importance of brewing and pubs. “If people feel they can afford to go out for a pint, pubs are more vibrant and that has an impact on the whole community.”
Pubs were, said Lewis, “the safest, healthiest environment for people to enjoy a drink,” and he would far rather see alcohol drunk in the pub than at home. Pubs and the beer enjoyed in them were “part of the solution” to alcohol related harm.
Asked by Griffiths about business rates for pubs compared to supermarkets, Lewis pointed to a package of measures announced in the autumn statement, which will mean a discount on business rates for many pubs from April this year. However, the pub’s main advantage over supermarkets was the environment they create for drinkers. “Good pubs that get that right are doing well,” he said.
Lewis’s final message to brewers was one of thanks. “The fantastic craft ales produced by local brewers are an important reason why people go to the pub – draught ale being a drink that can’t be replicated at home. By keeping consumers excited with new drinks to try, you are keeping pubs vibrant. Please continue the great work!”