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BBPA responds to publication of Great Repeal Bill White Paper

30/03/17


The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) Chief Executive, Brigid Simmonds, has commented on the release by the Government of the Great Repeal Bill White Paper today, as Britain sets in motion the process for leaving the European Union:


“The Prime Minister’s primary objective, of providing businesses with certainty, is welcome. The powers in this Bill present opportunities for the Government to look at EU regulations that could be amended and improved to help our sector once Britain has left the EU.


“The decision to leave the European Union presents the Government with an opportunity to stimulate the brewing sector, by fostering a more competitive rate of tax for beer and pubs, that both supports beer as a low-strength alcoholic option, and supports the pub as a responsible environment for drinking.


“The BBPA is also specifically calling for a raise from its current level of 2.8 per cent ABV, up to 3.5 per cent ABV, a measure not currently permitted under EU law. In line with our efforts around responsible drinking, we would urge the Government to look at our proposal and raise this threshold to encourage innovation in lower strength products.


“Furthermore, there are opportunities to amend current EU VAT regulation to look at a VAT rate specifically for the pub sector, as currently all the advantages are with supermarket meals which do not incur VAT. For example, a drop in the rate of VAT to 15% for pub meals could create 78,000 jobs and be a big boost for the economy.


“Aside from regulation, there are other outstanding issues that the Government needs to address. Over the last 9 months, we have consistently called on the Government to provide clarity for our members, particularly around the status of foreign nationals and their right to remain in the UK.


“As 17 per cent of workers in our pubs are not UK nationals, with that figure rising to over 40% in metropolitan areas, it’s important that these workers’ status with regards to remaining in the UK is clarified.


“The Government’s ongoing commitment to a free trade deal with the EU is also welcome. Exports are vital to our industry, worth £583 million in 2016 and 63 per cent of beer exports go to the EU. Whilst beer is not subject to tariffs under World Trade Organisation rules, the raw materials used in brewing are. A free trade deal with the European Union is crucial, and in addition, the Government should be proactively looking to create new free-trade deals with third countries, too.


“As the Repeal Bill goes through its Parliamentary process, there will be opportunities to remove more of the red tape that membership of the EU has imposed on businesses. One example might be the targets for packing waste legislation. The BBPA is ready for detailed discussions with individual Government Departments to ensure that any amended legislation works for our sector.”



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