SIBA’s guide to the General Election Manifestos 2019

Each of the three main political parties have now published their manifestos for the General Election 2019 taking place on 12 December 2019. Please find below a round-up of the main issues that affect SIBA members and the beer industry.

Conservative Manifesto 2019: Get Brexit Done, Unleash Britain’s Potential

Read full manifesto

  1. Review of alcohol duty

The Conservatives have promised a review of alcohol duty “to ensure that our tax system is supporting British drink producers”. Although aimed at the Scottish whisky industry, it will potentially have an impact on all duty including beer. It is also expected to include a multi-year plan for alcohol duty, ending the annual negotiations around rates.

SIBA’s view:

It is vital that the Conservative Party’s proposed review of alcohol duty does not negatively impact the nation’s small independent brewers – one of the UK’s most important manufacturing industries.

The review must not lead to placing equivalence on every category of alcohol on the table, nor undo the benefits that small breweries’ relief has brought to our British beer industry.

  1. Business rates

The manifesto commits to a “fundamental review of the system” of business rates. As a first step, the Conservatives plan to further reduce business rates for retailers next year, as well as extending the discount to pubs.

This means that for businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000, this will increase the retail discount from 33% to 50% in 2020/21. They will also introduce a new £1000 business rates relief for pubs.

SIBA’s view:

It is great that the Conservative Party recognise the vital contribution pubs make in our communities.

We’d like to see the Conservative party go further and commit to helping small brewers on their business rates bills. Within the valuations system large and global brewers’ premises are classed as ‘specialist’ whereas small brewers’ premises are classed as general manufacturing.

This means that per pint of beer the business rates paid by small independent brewers is significantly greater than that of their global competitors, who have economies of scale independent’s do not.

  1. Community ownership

The Conservatives plan to establish a £150 million Community Ownership Fund to encourage local takeovers of civic organisations or community assets that are under threat, including pubs.

This will help groups with the cost of preparing a bid, whether legal, commercial or planning-related, and co-fund some purchases. It will be open to all community groups and facilitated by local authorities.

Communities were given the opportunity under the Localism Act introduced in 2012 to nominate an asset to be included on a list of Assets of Community Value. Meaning that a community can pause the asset’s sale for six months. As part of the Community Ownership fund this grace period will be extended to nine months.

SIBA’s view:

It is welcome that the Conservatives recognise the contribution pubs make in our communities. Pubs owned by their communities is a model that is proven, so keeping more pubs in the hands of local people is also to be welcomed.

  1. Deposit Return Scheme

The Manifesto retains the Conservative’s commitment to introduce a deposit return scheme “to incentivise people to recycle plastic and glass”. This means that consumers will be charged a deposit and be able to reclaim the deposit by returning the container. They also plan to ban the export of plastic waste to non-OECD countries.

SIBA’s view:

While breweries want to do their bit for the environment, any deposit return scheme needs to be well designed and work across the country.

  

Labour Manifesto 2019: It’s Time for Real Change

Read full manifesto

  1. Alcohol labelling

Labour is committed to labelling all alcoholic drinks with clear health warnings. This will mean that all drinks will have to clearly show the alcohol content in units, alongside nutritional information, pregnancy warnings and the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines of not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week. They have also pledged to review the evidence on minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol. A MUP sets the lowest price an alcoholic drink can be sold for per unit of alcohol. So far it has been introduced in Scotland and Wales intends to introduce it in 2020.

SIBA’s view:

The commitment to force all producers to put health warnings on their products risks damaging small brewers. Self-regulation of the alcohol industry works, and the industry takes reducing alcohol harm seriously. But mandatory health warnings are not needed, have little evidence that they work to reduce harm and will be hugely costly.

  1. Business rates

Labour intends to review the option of a land value tax on commercial landlords as an alternative to business rates and develop a retail sector industrial strategy.

SIBA’s view:

We need to see the details of how a land value tax would work to ensure pubs, taprooms and brewers’ benefit.

  1. Community assets

The manifesto commits the party to “list pubs as Assets of Community Value (ACV) so community groups have the first chance to buy local pubs when they are under threat”. Buildings that are listed as ACV are recognised as providing social wellbeing in communities.

SIBA’s view:

We welcome the Labour commitment to give pubs that are under threat ACV status. More community pubs in the hands of those in the local community is good for social cohesion and good for local brewers.

  1. Waste

Labour intends to make producers responsible for the waste they create and for the full cost of recycling or disposal. They also back bottle-return schemes.

SIBA’s view:

While breweries want to do their bit for the environment, any bottle-return scheme needs to be well designed and work across the country.

 

Liberal Democrats Manifesto: Stop Brexit, Build a Brighter Future

Read full manifesto

  1. Review of duty

The Liberal Democrats plan to review the UK excise duty structure to better support whisky exports. There are no further details whether this will include beer as part of the review.

SIBA’s view:

Any targeted support for the alcohol sector needs to consider the UK’s national drink, beer, and the people who make and serve it. All parties need to commit to fair and positive review of small breweries relief and at least a freeze in all excise duty for the next Parliament.

  1. Minimum unit pricing

The manifesto commits the party to introducing minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol nationwide, taking note of the impact of the policy in Scotland. A MUP sets the lowest price an alcoholic drink can be sold for per unit of alcohol. So far it has been introduced in Scotland and Wales intends to introduce it in 2020.

SIBA’s view:

The evidence for MUP is not yet in, and any party should be careful of the wider impacts of a policy like MUP can have on small businesses, including small brewers.

  1. Business rates

According to the manifesto, the Liberal Democrats intend to replace business rates with a “Commercial Landowner Levy” based on the land value of commercial sites rather than their entire capital value.

SIBA’s view:

We need to see more detail on how a commercial landowner levy like that proposed by the Liberal Democrats would impact on brewers and pubs.

  1. Deposit Return Scheme

The Liberal Democrats are committed to extending deposit return schemes for all food and drink bottles and containers, working with the devolved administrations to ensure constituency across the UK.

SIBA’s view:

While breweries want to do their bit for the environment, any bottle-return scheme needs to be well designed and work across the country.

 

Top