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.”