I’ve received lots of correspondence concerning tax reform for alcohol and the Long Live the Local campaign. I want to see everything possible done to support our historic pubs and I will make sure the Government delivers on its promises. We have lots of fantastic pubs in Southend, from the Broker to the Broadway and I know that they must be protected as the lifeblood of our community. Lots has already been done to safeguard their future, but we must be prepared to go further.
The Autumn Budget 2021 confirmed that duty rates on beer, cider, wine and spirits will be frozen for another year, a move which will save consumers £3 billion over the next five years, and provide further support to the hospitality industry and its suppliers as they recover from the pandemic. Duty rates on draught beer and cider will be cut by 5 per cent, taking 3p off a pint and further supporting our pubs.
In addition, I think its important that, following a review, the alcohol duty regime undergoes a major simplification because the old system was outdated and set rates based on historical anomalies. A new regime will be fairer to both consumers and producers, and promote product innovation in response to evolving consumer tastes.
Of course, few industries were hit harder during the pandemic. We must continue to do everything necessary and, in response to the rise of the Omicron variant, the Government provided businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors with one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises.
Further support through the Additional Restrictions Grant was made available for businesses most in need. This builds on support provided throughout the pandemic, such as one-off Restart Grants, a reduced VAT rate which was in place until March 2022 and the ongoing UK-wide Recovery Loan Scheme.
I know that evidence about the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector is continuing to be collected and I am confident that the Government’s ongoing support will help pubs, which are the lifeblood of our communities, to recover and build back better.