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CAMRA - Real Ale and Pubs

May 6, 2015 9:45 AM

Thank you for contacting me about CAMRA's Manifesto for Real Ale and Pubs. We have a fantastic drinks and pub industry in the UK and I'm proud of the steps we've taken in government to support it.

Pubs are at the heart of our communities, particularly in rural areas. Not only that, they are making a significant contribution to the economy.

That's why as Liberal Democrats in government, we are committed to strengthening communities' rights to protect their local pubs through the planning system.

The Community Rights powers announced by the government in January, provide even greater protection for our pubs. With just 29 signatures, a pub can be listed as a community asset, meaning its use cannot be changed, or the building demolished without a full planning application and review. Liberal Democrats' proposals would strengthen this again, by removing the need to list a pub, in order to allow community bids for it.

Like you, we want to keep alcohol duty at a fair level. The last Labour government introduced a beer duty escalator which was designed to increase tax on beer by 2% above inflation every year through to 2015. It doesn't seem fair to constantly add to people's cost of living when prices are rising in other areas.

That's why Liberal Democrats in government have scrapped Labour's beer duty escalator, helping support community pubs across the country and gone further by cutting beer duty by a total of 2p a pint. This has taken a total of 8p off every pint compared to Labour's plans, and was the first time beer duty has been cut in over 50 years. In fact, the British Beer and Pub Association estimates that the beer duty cut in 2013 led to 76% of its members increasing investment, and 61% employing more staff.

We have slashed regulations on pubs hosting live music, made it easier for communities to buy their local pub, as well as easing the financial burden on pubs by allowing them to keep more of their profits by cutting corporation tax.

In terms of Pubco reform, Liberal Democrats want to introduce a market rent only option for tenants of large pubcos which would prevent the excessive rents we see being imposed on tenants. It would allow them to buy beer on the open market, rather than being forced to buy through their pubco at prices which are often much higher than those charged by a brewery.

We are committed to helping Britain's pubs and breweries and I am glad that we haven't ducked away from taking decisive action as previous administrations have done. I'll be working hard to continue to support our pubs and drinks industry.

I hope this answers your questions.