Scottish Beer & Pub Association voices concern over Edinburgh ‘Tourism Tax’

Commenting on the consultation by the City of Edinburgh Council for a ‘Tourist Tax’, Brigid Simmonds OBE, CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said:

“A consultation by the City of Edinburgh Council for a ‘Tourist Tax’ is of real concern to the beer and pub sector.

“In Scotland, our industry supports nearly 60,000 jobs and contributes £1.73bn to the economy – it is also a crucial part of the nation’s tourism offer, with a visit to a traditional pub ranking third on the list of things tourists do when they visit.

“Pubs have faced a number of challenges over the last decade and still face increasing and considerable tax pressures from a range of sources; particularly high beer duty, unfair business rates and VAT. Any introduction of a ‘Tourism Tax’ in Edinburgh will see tourists having less money to spend in the city and only add to the challenges. Any introduction must therefore be accompanied by a reduction in tax elsewhere. The UK ranks almost bottom on any list on price competitiveness for tourists and unlike most countries in the EU does not offer reduced VAT on either accommodation or food. We also have some of the highest rates of air passenger duty in the world.

“It is vital that any levy is hypothecated back into the sector to attract more visitors to the city and help those businesses which will be impacted by this tax.

“Scotland’s fantastic brewing industry has huge potential with some of the world’s great beers being produced right here. When tourists come to our pubs and sample our beer, they also go back home wanting to drink our beers which has helped grow our exports. Surely then we should be encouraging, rather than discouraging, tourists who visit and sometimes stay in one of Edinburgh’s many great pubs?

“On average, every pub contributes £100,000 to their local economy each year, and with tourism being such an important backbone to Edinburgh’s economy, a ‘Tourism Tax’ on one of Edinburgh’s most successful businesses could be bad news for the city.”

Scottish Beer & Pub Association welcomes Scottish Government’s Programme for Government

Commenting on the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2018-19, entitled “Delivering for Today, Investing for Tomorrow”, Brigid Simmonds OBE, CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said:

“Our industry welcomes the Scottish Government’s Program for Government, particularly the news of further action on non-domestic rates, expanding our food and drink sector, and growing our exports.

“Most significantly of all, the current system of rates simply doesn’t work for our sector and this has been recognised by the Scottish Government with the 12.5% annual cap on increases. The legislation announced yesterday will put into law the remaining Barclay recommendations, which includes a break between the completion of capital investment and a rise in business rates. Without doubt business rate increases are a real disincentive for capital investment.  We would like to see such legislation replicated across the whole of the UK for the benefit of all pubs.

“We also share the Government’s ambitions of growing our fantastic food and drink sectors, and welcome the specific mention of beer within their plans. We also look forward to the new national export plan and will be pushing for a strong focus on our world class brewers, which have huge potential for major export growth.

“There are of course concerns for our sector, particularly how a deposit return scheme might interact with our members and become another burdening cost for business. It is imperative that any system is UK-wide, a Scotland-only system would be costly for consumers and unworkable for industry – any inclusion of alcoholic products will also impact on minimum-unit pricing and undermine the ongoing evaluation of this policy.”

 

SBPA RESPOND TO NEIL BIBBY’S TIED PUBS BILL

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Responding to the Press Release by Scottish Labour, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association have called for a rethink, saying it would cost jobs, investment and opportunities, while punishing tied-pubs with an expensive levy to meet the costs of the proposal.

Commenting, Scottish Beer & Pub Association CEO Brigid Simmonds OBE said:

“This proposed bill seeks to replicate legislation in England & Wales which is completely unsuitable and financially unfeasible for Scotland, seeking a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.BrigidHero

“Only 17% of pubs are under a leased and tenanted arrangement here in Scotland, compared to 40% across the rest of the UK. It simply doesn’t work to compare like-for-like in this case, especially considering the financial burden of this costly legislation would be met by a levy on a tiny minority of pubs.  Furthermore, there is already in place a system of self-regulation in Scotland which safeguards tenants’ rights and came into force less than two years ago.

“Last year a comprehensive independent report by the Scottish Government found that no part of the pub sector in Scotland was unfairly disadvantaged over another. Any reform should be evidence-based, and evidence to back these proposed changes is noticeably absent. If the Bill is passed, all the evidence shows that it will cost jobs, hurt small business owners, reduce entrepreneurship opportunities and see Scotland’s pubs lose-out on much needed investment.

“We are strongly urging Neil Bibby to rethink this proposal and instead focus on helping to secure meaningful support for all 4,900 pubs in Scotland, not just the 17 per cent which the current bill is unfairly aimed at.

“We believe further dialogue between trade bodies, government and other interested parties is now needed. We look forward to the forthcoming stakeholder meeting convened by the Scottish Government Minister to discuss these bill proposals in the round with other areas of real interest and concern to the industry at this time.”

A real Scottish pub success story is Kained Holdings, started by three friends just over a decade ago – Scott Arnot, Graham Suttle & Mo Clark. In 2007, they opened Lebowskis in Finnieston with investment from a pub company. A decade later, they now employ over 170 staff across nine bars and restaurants. They say this proposal would have a damaging impact for future investment and opportunities in the industry.

Commenting on the proposal, Scott Arnot of Kained Holdings said:

“When Graham, Mo and I opened Lebowskis in 2007, it was with the help of a pub company and beer-tie agreement.  We were given an opportunity to try something new and we know that the investment we received could not have been replicated from other sources.

 “The beer-tie arrangement has afforded myself and my partners opportunities to grow our business, support local communities and employ over 170 people.  We do realise that the model is not perfect.  However, this bill, while perhaps well-intended, is a threat to innovation and investment. It will see fewer opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovation in our Industry, and ultimately fewer Scottish success stories in the licenced trade.”

 

Scottish pubs bill would cost jobs and investment

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Responding to the announcement by the Scottish Labour MSP Neil Bibby that he will seek to introduce new legislation on the nation’s leased and tenanted pubs, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association has called for the MSP to ‘think again’.

If successful, the proposed legislation would remove opportunities for young entrepreneurs and stifle investment in the pub industry in Scotland. It would introduce a costly and inflexible statutory code of practice for just 17 per cent of Scotland’s pubs, when there is already an effective system of self-regulation to deal with disputes, which has been in place since July 2016.

Brian Davidson, President of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association said:

“We would strongly urge Neil Bibby to rethink this proposal and instead focus on helping to secure meaningful support for all 4,900 pubs in Scotland, not just the 17 per cent which the current bill is unfairly aimed at.

“Pubs are of vital importance to the Scottish economy and communities across the country, so we welcome that they are on the agenda at Holyrood. Our sector faces multiple challenges, and the support of politicians is essential to ensure the pub market remains vibrant and diverse, as it is today.

“However, we believe this Bill will do the opposite of what it sets out to achieve, and seeks to find a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

“Last year a comprehensive independent report by the Scottish Government found that no part of the pub sector in Scotland was unfairly disadvantaged over another. Any reform should be evidence-based, and evidence to back these proposed changes is noticeably absent. If successful, this bill will hurt small business owners, offer fewer choices for consumers and ultimately cost jobs.

“We believe further dialogue between trade bodies, government and other interested parties is now needed. We look forward to the forthcoming stakeholder meeting convened by the Minister to discuss these bill proposals in the round with other areas of real interest and concern to the industry at this time.”

A real Scottish pub success story is Kained Holdings, started in 2007 by three  friends – Scott Arnot, Graham Suttle & Mo Clark. In 2007, they opened Lebowskis in Finnieston with investment from a pub company. A decade later, they now employ over 170 staff across nine bars and restaurants.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Scott Arnot of Kained Holdings said:

“When Graham, Mo and I opened Lebowskis in 2007, it was with the help of a pub company and beer-tie agreement.  We were given an opportunity to try something new and we know that the investment we received could not have been replicated from other sources.

“The beer-tie arrangement has afforded myself and my partners opportunities to grow our business, support local communities and employ over 170 people.  We do realise that the model is not perfect.  However, this bill, while perhaps well-intended, is a threat to innovation and investment. It will see fewer opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovation in our Industry, and ultimately fewer Scottish success stories in the licenced trade.”