Industry reacts, as Labour wins general election

The pub and bar industry have been reacting to Labour’s landslide victory.

Representatives from across the pub and bar industry have been reacting to Labour's landslide victory in the general election.

Following 14 years in power, the Conservatives saw a heavy defeat after the public went to the polls on 4 July, with the outgoing party set for the worst results in their history.

UKHospitality was quick to urge the Labour Party to deliver on its manifesto commitments to replace business rates and reform the Apprenticeship Levy in the first 100 days of government.

In its manifesto, the Labour Party committed to replacing the business rates system in England and level the playing field between high street businesses and online giants; as well as reforming the Apprenticeship Levy by creating a Growth and Skills Levy. 

"Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party," says Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality. "We look forward to working with the new Labour government, which during the campaign has clearly recognised hospitality’s role serving Britain and creating places where people want to live, work and invest. 

"We now need to see this followed up with action in the first 100 days. Delivering on manifesto commitments to replace business rates and reform the Apprenticeship Levy would be a clear sign that the government backs hospitality as the central pillar of the everyday economy."

Nicholls says that addressing business rates would avoid a cliff-edge moment in April 2025, when current relief is set to end and rates are due to increase again.

Operator reaction

Speaking with Pub & Bar the morning after the general election, Kevin Georgel, CEO of St Austell Brewery, says there needs to be a proper review of tax on businesses and a modernisation of how the country approaches it.

"Businesses that employ a lot of people and operate physical premises are being disproportionately taxed," he says. "We are pleased that Labour have indicated a thorough review of the business rates system, which is where a lot of that [tax] plays out. We will obviously hold them to account to doing that and we would like them to do it as quickly as possible." 

Georgel also highlighted the point on Apprenticeship Levy reform, as well as encouraging the new government to do more when it comes to getting money back in people's pockets.

Chris Jowsey, chief executive at Admiral Taverns, says he is looking forward to working with the new government to ensure pubs get the recognition they deserve for all the hard work they put into communities across the UK, echoing UKHospitality's request on business rates, but also raising the issue of other taxation.

"Not only are pubs an engine for economic growth, contributing £26.2bn to the UK economy each year and supporting 936,000 jobs, they are the cornerstone of British life and have been bringing people together for centuries so it’s essential that we continue to facilitate such an important part of community life. 

"We urge the government to provide an overhaul of the business rates system, introduce beer duty reforms and a cut on employer national insurance to help facilitate the growth of long-term, sustainable pubs that sit at the heart of their communities and support all aspects of local life."


The BII says it is looking forward to working with the newly elected Labour government, particularly around their pledges for growth, safer communities and opportunities for all.

The trade body points out that while inflation has come down in recent months, the impact of long term, embedded high costs in energy, food, drink and staffing has been huge for pubs, especially with pandemic-specific debt still hampering the ability to invest and drive further growth. 

"Our new government must recognise the hugely unfair tax burden that our sector, and particularly the small, independent businesses, have shouldered for decades," says Steve Alton, BII CEO. "Our priority will be centred around working with ministers, MPs and officials to reduce excessive taxation, provide immediate certainty of a continuation of the current business rates relief due to end in March 2025, as well as a full reform of this outdated and unfair rates system." 

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