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Personal Licence – to kill? PLH reform and upcoming fee increases…

On 31/10/13 by Jim Cathcart (Policy Manager - Pub Operations)

At a recent meeting of the National Licensing Forum here at Brewers’ Hall, the Home Office gave a very useful update on the upcoming changes to licensing.

A number of these were well known already – Minimum Unit Pricing still remains under consideration but without firm proposals to bring it forward as yet, mandatory licensing conditions are being strengthened especially in regard to irresponsible promotions, the TENs limit is being increased from 12 to 15 a year and personal licence renewals are being scrapped.

On the issue of personal licences, no one involved in the trade could have failed to miss the fact that the Home Office is currently consulting on the removal of the national personal licence requirement, to be replaced with locally-set training conditions. The arguments against the removal of personal licences have been well-rehearsed elsewhere and won’t be detailed here, suffice to say that the entire industry has united in its disapproval of the Home Office’s plans. However, the fact that the Government is willing to deregulate in the area of licensing should not be overlooked – four or five years ago this would have been unimaginable. Whilst personal licences are not a candidate, other areas are ripe for the red tape harvest such as the requirement to advertise in newspapers, the removal of annual ‘registration of interest’ under s.178 of the Licensing Act and a common date for fee payments, which one hopes will be included in the upcoming fees consultation – more on this below.

The mysterious new ‘Community and Ancillary Sellers’ authorisation lets loose a new phrase into the already acronym-heavy world of licensing – the CAN. This new authorisation will apparently allow businesses and community groups a simpler and cheaper alternative if they wish to sell small amounts of alcohol without having a premises licence – for example hairdressers serving wine with a haircut. It will be interesting to see how the CAN works in practice as we are awaiting more detail from the Home Office. It will, of course, be necessary to ensure businesses are truly ancillary sellers of alcohol and that this does not disadvantage those with a full premises licence and the resultant safeguards (a semi-recent example involving a supposed ‘furniture shop’ selling beer comes to mind).

Finally, on to fees. The Government intend to introduce regulations bringing in the new fee levels in June 2014 – which will be locally set on a cost recovery basis and thankfully be subject to a national cap. A consultation on this new fee structure and the proposed levels is expected in the very near future, and given fees have not increased since 2005 any new levels must be proportionate so as not to burden the sector and wipe out any benefits from licensing deregulation. All in all, there is plenty for the trade to be getting its collective head round in the coming months.

Jim Cathcart
Policy Manager - Pub Operations


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Waste water and the Secretary of State

On 31/10/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

£3.5 million has been invested by Shepherd Neame in a new Waste Water Recovery Plant in Faversham. The site, a former Tesco distribution base was opened yesterday by the Rt. Hon Owen Paterson MP, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Andy Tighe and I were privileged to be present.

I must admit that on many of my brewery visits the problems of effluent, potential fines from water boards and how to the deal with the problem have surfaced many times. Many years ago Shepherd Neame helped fund the Faversham waste recovery plant, but they now felt that the pressure on the plant was too great and they needed their own. One real advantage of the plant is the opportunity for water re-use within the brewery and the reduction in the amount of water required for brewing which is drawn from their own artesian well, deep beneath the brewery.

I met Owen Paterson in Cologne when he launched the UK food and drink export strategy and clearly increasing exports are high on his agenda. His second priority is sustainability and improving the environment. He spoke knowledgably about the environmental benefits of using UK grown barley and hops. He was impressed about the use in Faversham of an anaerobic digester to help reduce the 15 million tons of waste thrown away each year.

After a tour of the bottling plant (during which the Secretary of State had to take a call from Number 10 - For those of you who have bottling plants, not the easiest place to find a quiet spot!); a quick look at the brewery and then a final discussion with Jonathan, Tom Falcon, Andy and myself.

We raised as you would expect a number of issues. We gave him our ‘Cheers’ booklet on the effect of the Budget and made the case for a further freeze. We talked about PRNs (Packaging Recovery Notes) and the dramatic interest in the cost of recycling glass for the industry. We asked him to help move forward proposals – to address this and particularly the issue of company obligations being too high due to the current overestimate of the total glass market. I will write to him about this and other issues.

We of course talked about exports, the TTIP negotiations between the EU and USA, the proposals by the Scottish Government on deposits and returns and how we were very opposed to the scheme and any idea that this might be extended in England. We discussed business rates and in particular rural rate relief and how DEFRA can help rural pubs.

Beer is classed as a food and is therefore the responsibility of DEFRA. It is always good to have the opportunity to sit down with the Cabinet Minister responsible for your sector and in Owen Paterson I think we have a Secretary of State who is listening and will take further action to help.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Keg Watch Security Team Keep Busy

On 30/10/13

Guest blog from Keg Watch Chairman, Hector Taylor

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, is now law and whilst a ban on cash payments has been in effect since October, the wider Act will be enforced from 1st December this year. This long awaited piece of legislation will enhance the increasingly effective working relationships that Keg Watch has developed with both the Police and other Law Enforcement Agencies.

As an example, the Keg Watch security team, on behalf of the UK brewing industry, now routinely undertakes more than 100 investigations per annum of which around 30% result in a police caution or prosecution.

Investigations are initiated by calls to the office concerning anything from a few kegs being found at a non-accredited scrap yard to a full trunker load having been detained by police or border authorities without any valid documentation.

Online auction sites are an area of particular interest.. During this summer alone, Keg Watch has identified 62 instances of casks and kegs being offered for sale. Upon being advised that these containers were the legal property of the brewers, the vast majority of individuals concerned immediately asked us to collect the containers for repatriation to the owners. There are a handful of cases that remain unresolved, which generally relate to confusion over the ownership of containers left in pub cellars, which the new owners claim are included in the sale.

Keg Watch continue to challenge the individuals who refuse to recognise the true, legal ownership of brewers’ containers and any direct contact by such individuals attempting to return kegs or casks in exchange for payment should be referred to Keg Watch as soon as possible.

Remember to call Keg Watch on 0800 100 1945 if you have any suspicions regarding illegal handling and use of containers.


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Working through Europe to boost the beer trade worldwide

On 29/10/13

It is fair to say that Europe has not had the best economic luck over the past five years. Overall the economies of the EU have seen growth of three per cent from the beginning of 2008 up to the end of 2012. Of course many countries have fared much worse, and some have outperformed others. In contrast the world's emerging markets have continued to grow, albeit at a slower rate than before the global financial meltdown. It's therefore not a surprise that Europe's leading companies are looking to these markets for export growth.

For all its critics the European Union has created a dynamic trading union within which the movement of goods between member states is relatively fluid. There are complications with dutiable goods, such as beer, but on the whole the system works well. Food safety standards and some labelling elements are rationally harmonised, and EMCS sets a common method for moving product.

Outside of the EU, however, it's not so easy. Many countries demand specialist testing of products, set import tariffs, create spurious rules on labelling and have preferential tax systems for domestic producers. All of this can make it very difficult for British (and other European) brewers to access these markets. This is where the European Commission can play, and indeed has played, a crucial role for businesses in the EU.

On Thursday I attended a meeting of the Market Access Working Group on Alcoholic Beverages (MAAC) meeting in Brussels. The BBPA was raising a specific point about trade barriers to the US, through our Brewers of Europe representation. Currently US small brewers can receive tax discounts in Europe, yet European small brewers can't receive the same benefits in the US, even though their domestic brewers do receive substantial subsidies. That just doesn't seem fair. We were there to make that point to the Commission and ask for their support in challenging this disparity. The case seems strong and the Commission agreed to look into the issue further.

As well as the US there were issues with many other countries on a range of issues. In Russia and South Korea there have been plans to re-define beer, plans which could exclude a number of beer brands from export; in Turkey excessive labelling requirements could close the market for many exported beers; Israel is demanding nutritional labelling, which means a whole new pack design.

All around the world Governments are proposing schemes, designed in their own nation, and rightly so. But we live in a global society and we need to make it as easy as possible for products to move across borders, and to avoid unnecessary protectionism. It will boost trade and create so much more choice for consumers, which can only be good for everyone!

We have the opportunity, through the European Commission and bodies like the Brewers of Europe, to challenge trade barriers and keep borders open for British beer – something that can only add to our long term success.


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Evidence-based policy high on the global beer agenda

On 24/10/13 by Andy Tighe (Policy Director)

Would doctors really ever recommend alcohol to patients?

This was one of the many questions considered at the Worldwide Brewing Alliance annual meeting that took place last week in the USA. The question formed part of a major research proposal presented by the NIAAA. The proposal was to undertake a definitive study over a number of years to establish whether there is a causal link between regular moderate alcohol consumption and reduced cardiovascular and metabolic disease.

Brewing trade association and global brewer representatives from across the world met in Philadelphia to discuss this, beer and health more generally, forward engagement with global institutions and the key policy and regulatory issues on the agenda at national level. Examples of proactive industry activity to address current threats in markets such as the USA, New Zealand and Korea were also showcased.

A particularly interesting session focussed on the evidence base for the so called ‘best buys’ (higher taxes, advertising bans and restricted availability) advocated by NGOs and many public health professionals as the most cost effective way to tackle the harmful use of alcohol. These were considered alongside alternative, more targeted interventions aimed specifically at harmful consumption that do not risk disproportionately impacting moderate drinkers. Despite many studies and programmes in relation to both approaches, proper evaluation of the robustness of findings and the effectiveness of particular programmes remains somewhat lacking. Indeed, survey design and conclusions are often flawed in a number of ways. It was agreed that a proposal for an ‘Evidence Summit’ should be worked up.

The need for robust, consistent and authoritative statistics was also highlighted. It was agreed that it was necessary to update the global economic contribution estimates first undertaken three years ago by the WBA – although, of course the international section of the BBPA Statistical Handbook also provides a useful resource for brewing associations across the world.

In all, a fascinating day and a half made even better by the generous and warm hospitality of our hosts the Beer Institute who made sure we had also had time to enjoy some great beer and food pairings in a great city.

Andy Tighe
Policy Director


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Something old, something new, something borrowed, something green

On 23/10/13 by Brian Yorston (Head Brewer at Wadworths)

I enjoyed reading Steve Livens’ recent BBPA blog about Kent green hop brews and it is great that this style of beer is becoming popular. The blog gave the impression that this type of beer stemmed from the smaller brewers who have, by their nature “more room to manoeuvre”. However it may well be of interest to many that the original green hop brew came from a non-hop growing area of England and a brewery which in nautical terms could be classed as “quite a large old barge”!

Trevor Holmes, as head brewer at Wadworth, came up with the idea of a green hop brew when he was walking in a hop yard back in 1992. Since then, Wadworth have produced their Malt and Hops beer each year by gathering the green hops on the day of brewing not from Kent but Worcestershire. Initially the team at Wadworth tried to produce a truly harvest beer by not only using fresh hops but also the new season’s barley. Unfortunately this did not work as the dormant nature of barley, malted too early, gave troublesome brews. So we stuck with the concept of brewing the beer with just the new season’s hops, both dried and fresh.

Since I have been brewing this beer I have kept the recipe exactly the same each year so that the hop character of the beer is unknown until the beer has been tasted. As a result, the beer reflects that seasons hop crop. For instance; the crop of 2009 was incredibly high in resins so the beer produced was very bitter with a slight, retsina like flavour. The kilning process of hop drying is used to preserve the hop for storage but this drives some resins and oils into the air. The green hop beers retain these compounds in the liquid to a much greater extent.

This year’s version was less bitter than normal and more balanced in nature, reflecting the measured alpha acid content of the hops which was rather low. The fact that we brew this beer very early in the hop picking season means that we at Wadworth may have an idea of the character of the early crop of Goldings even before the hop farmer knows, simply by measuring the bitterness of the beer and tasting it!

I believe that green hop brews are the “Beaujolais Nouveau” of the beer world giving an insight to what that year’s hop crop will produce. Since Trevor’s inspiration, over 21 years ago, this beer style has been reproduced all around the world. The green hop beer can only be celebrated once a year and for a finite time. So as a beer style for judging, timing will be an issue.

I applaud the Kent brewers for their initiative in raising the profile of the beer and hops grown in their county but ultimately green hop beers are a celebration of new seasons hop’s wherever they are grown.

Brian Yorston
Head Brewer at Wadworths


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Localism rising

On 22/10/13 by Daisy Blench (Policy Manager - Responsibility)

‘Localism’ has been a Government buzzword since the last election, with the principle enshrined in law through the Localism Act 2011. However, it has arguably only been in the last year or so that local authorities have got up to speed and have begun to embrace the range of powers at their disposal.

The recent increase in local ‘voluntary’ higher strength alcohol bans and some local minimum pricing schemes is a clear sign of the change in focus since local authorities took on greater responsibility for tackling local problems, particularly in relation to licensing and issues related to alcohol misuse.

On higher-strength, Ipswich Council and the police have been leading the charge as they have worked with local retailers in an attempt to tackle problems with anti-social behaviour and street drinking in the town. ‘Reducing the Strength’, Ipswich’s flagship scheme, asks off-licences in the town to commit not to stock a number of specific ‘beers, lagers and ciders with an ABV of 6.5 per cent which are sold particularly cheaply’.

Although the scheme in Ipswich has been hailed a success one year on from the launch, due to reductions in street drinking and anti-social behaviour, it should to be seen as part of a much wider strategy, including measures on rehabilitation, rehousing street drinkers and investment in better support services, as well as enforcing the existing law. Questions also remain over of the legality of such local ‘voluntary’ initiatives which seek to restrict the sale of certain products. The OFT has already urged caution to councils looking to go down this route.

The scheme has, however, caught the imagination and the number of other authorities pursuing similar initiatives is growing. Hastings Borough Council will be asking off-licences to stop selling ‘beer, cider or lager with an alcohol by volume of over 6.5 per cent’ and applications for new off-licences will be challenged to have this as a condition on their licence. The London Borough of Newham has been granting new licences with a condition in place not to stock beers and ciders over 5.5 per cent abv.

Northampton police has also been calling for the introduction of a voluntary higher strength ban based on the Ipswich model. The Northamptonshire Chief Constable Adrian Lee is also head of alcohol and licensing for the Association of Chief Police Officers, and has called for similar schemes to be rolled out across the country.

Questions remain over the effectiveness of such restrictions when drinkers may simply shift to other products or continue to purchase from retailers who do not participate. Enforcement of existing legislation and investment in support services for dependent drinkers are likely to be more effective solutions (as seen in Ipswich). However, in the new arena of localised policy making, the question for the industry is how we adapt our messages and communicate our concerns effectively at a local level.

Partnership working is to be welcomed and the industry has been supportive of genuine partnership working in the form of schemes such as Pubwatch, Best Bar None and Community Alcohol Partnerships which have had a real impact in tackling problems in local areas.

We therefore need to continue to support these existing examples of good practice and ensure that other initiatives being pursued do not place unfair restrictions on business and actually have a real impact on the problems they are seeking to tackle.

Daisy Blench
Policy Manager - Responsibility


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Employing ex-Service Personnel

On 22/10/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Over 20,000 Servicemen and women leave our armed services each year. This is partly because of wastage and a natural end to a short service career, but in recent years the re-structuring of our Armed Forces has led to many being made redundant.

These ex-Service Personnel may be engineers, technicians, trainers, administrators, managers or chefs. They will all have a certain tenacity and with the right support could certainly be an asset in brewing or in pubs. There are a number of ways you can promote employment opportunities in your company to service personnel.

Veterans Interview Programmes: These aim to guarantee an interview for a service veteran who applied for a job. It is not in any way a guarantee of a job, but offers them a chance to improve interview techniques and their transition. RightJob is a free of charge, online system for advertising jobs. Employment Fairs, Industry Awareness Days and Company Presentations offer employers an opportunity to meet ex-service personnel. There are regional events in one of ten centres and you can find out where they are by looking at The Career Transition Partnership (CTP) also offer trial attachments for Service Personnel, so you can have them work for you at no cost and see if their skill set suits you.

There is a political angle to this which is cross-party. Jim Murphy MP, until recently Shadow Defence Secretary, has been a leading advocate of these initiatives and the CTP itself falls under the Department for Work and Pensions, with whom the BBPA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote work experience through our pubs.

It is worth noting, finally, that Pub Aid research has suggested that £106m was raised in pubs for charitable purposes in 2012. If you look at the causes most donated to; military charities are right at the top of the list. The new Chief of the Defence Staff described the military this week as “one of our nation’s unique selling points” (I might add just like pubs!). There is no doubt that we owe them a debt of gratitude for their service across the world, but it is a two way street so to speak, as the skills of ex service personnel could be invaluable to the pub trade.

As an aside for interest I have now also been sent information about a new service offered by ex service personnel, many of whom have been wounded or injured. Capstar Chauffeurs, as its name suggests is based in Syon Park in West London. Some of their drivers have had life changing injuries, but all have extensive military experience and now hold Transport for London operating licences and chauffeur training courses. They can be contacted through +44 (0) 208 568 7902 or

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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No lies, damned lies, just a load of statistics on beer and pubs

On 18/10/13

The BBPA is proud of its numbers! We have a long history of building a credible evidence base in the arguments we make. We work with a wealth of statistics in our day-to-day operations, so it makes sense for us to pull these together in one place for others to use, and help them understand the industry we support. The result is our Statistical Handbook (available for purchase here), a compendium of facts and figures, of which I am currently the editor. It's a lot of work, and is a real team effort, but hopefully readers/users find it worthwhile.

The Handbook is a longstanding institution in the world of beer and pubs. It has been produced since 1973 and brings together a vast array of data on the industry in which we operate, and the wider world. I believe it is truly informative and authoritative about the market.We've issued some of the media friendly stats to the outside world in our news release but there is a wealth of additional information contained inside, for the beer geek, the industry analyst, policymakers and the general onlooker.

The Handbook is also designed to be impartial - it presents the statistics as they are. And this, hopefully, gives it credibility. It is frequently quoted by supporters and critics of the industry alike, so this suggests the balance is about right.

This year's book has seen a number of changes. For the first time the 'book' will be available electronically. The tables in the Handbook itself will be available on a data stick, enabling users to more easily analyse and interrogate the data. The electronic version will also include additional tables that are not in the Handbook. These tend to be more 'specialist' tables for industry users. An example is the weather - the data stick includes hours of sunshine, temperature and levels of rainfall for those that want to study and predict the impact of the weather on beer sales. This is further enhanced by more detailed information on the location of breweries, a diary of significant events and data on beer's raw materials.

We strongly believe in evidence-based decisions, and hope this 'bible' helps add to the debate about a complicated but brilliant industry, one that is so important to people's lives.

And we're always keen to improve so if you have any comments, queries, additions, criticisms or whatever else please get in touch - and we'll see what we can do to help.

Cheers, and happy reading!


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