Pubs should be a Brexit priority

BBPA manifesto stresses importance of sector to the economy

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds

EU workers in pubs, VAT and protecting beer exports should be among Westminster’s top priorities post-Brexit, according to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).
A manifesto from the organisation has set out the case for Britain’s brewing and pub sectors as a “force for growth and job creation” in a UK outside the European Union.
Free trade with European nations and access to workers from overseas for brewers and pubs should be a priority, said BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds.
Speaking to SLTN, Simmonds said that, although the association sympathises with Brexit voters who want British jobs to go to British people, it is crucial the brewing and pub industries can continue to recruit from overseas.
“We want to ensure that we can attract the people with the soft (ie. interpersonal) skills we need to the country,” said Simmonds.
“Obviously we want to employ people who have been here for many years or are British by birth, but I also think we will need to have some people from overseas to fill those positions, because we’re a big industry.
“We support almost a million jobs in the UK.”
She added that increased regulation, such as immigration quotas or requiring companies to account for any foreign staff they employ, “would be really difficult and costly”.
A lower VAT rate for food sold in pubs should also be a consideration, said Simmonds.
She argued that forcing pubs to pay VAT on food, while not doing the same for supermarkets, creates “a disincentive to go to the pub”.
“Pubs are hugely important to local communities,” she said.
“They’re very much a public service. I don’t know many people who object to people going and drinking in the safe environment of the pub.
“So what can we do to help good pubs survive and help them continue to serve their communities?”
The launch of the BBPA’s manifesto comes as another trade group, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), warned that the price of imported wine in the UK could go up by an average of 29p a bottle as a result of Brexit.
“This is of grave concern to the wine industry and it is vital that government come out in support of the trade which generates £17.3 billion in economic activity,” said WSTA chief executive Miles Beale.