Monthly Archives: August 2017

ALMR, latest Industry News

ALMR

Government must address rising business costs

The ALMR has welcomed a report by the British Chamber of Commerce that echoes the eating and drinking out trade association’s own warning of rising costs for UK businesses.

ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The ALMR has been highlighting for more than a year how costs for businesses are rising. The BCC’s report states exactly that, and is a welcome addition to our own efforts to highlight how the Government must be wary rising costs jeopardising businesses growth.

“The 22017 ALMR Christie & Co Benchmarking Report shows operating costs in the eating and drinking out sector rising above 50% of turnover for the first time. If this trend of rising costs continues, many businesses will struggle.

“The BCC’s report identifies employment costs as a significant concern, with the Apprenticeship Levy and rising wage rates as particularly worrisome. Increases to minimum wage rates can be very good for our staff members and customers, but these increases must consider the economic outlook for businesses, not be politically mandated and must be affordable

“The Government could begin to tackle this problem by starting with a complete overhaul of a business rates system that is heaping costs on businesses and undermining confidence and investment.”

Social integration must not cost hospitality operators

The ALMR has reacted to the publication of a report into migrant integration by welcoming its acknowledgement of the value of non-UK workers but warning against additional costs for businesses and disadvantaging companies that employ migrant staff.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration has published the report: Integration not Demonisation, voicing concerns about the integration of migrant workers into the UK, and recommending the adoption of regional quotas and the introduction of a levy on employing migrant workers, to pay for social integration projects.

ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “Migrant workers make a hugely valuable contribution to the UK economy and are particularly vital to eating and drinking out businesses and the report rightly acknowledges this.

“We need a legislative approach that gives employers access to the employees they need to grow their businesses. Naturally, with virtually full employment, a significant number of these are going to be non-UK workers, so barriers preventing their easy employment will harm the UK’s eating and drinking out sector.

“It is important to stress that eating and drinking out businesses do not actively court foreign staff members at the expense of British ones. There simply is not the pool of UK labour needed to fill vacancies in our sector and non-UK workers are doing a fantastic job in filling those gaps.

“We need collectively to highlight the importance of non-UK workers, reinforcing the fact that they are welcome in the UK and that the huge contribution they make doesn’t go unnoticed.”

The ALMR has also warned that proposals to introduce a regional quota system of migrant workers or a levy on employing non-UK workers would only heap costs on employers and undermine investment.

Nicholls concluded: “The Government needs to produce and implement an immigration strategy that acknowledges these points and allows for the easy employment of workers from overseas. Crucially, this means avoiding a regional quota system or an employee levy that will only throw up further barriers to growth for businesses and undermine investment.”

PCA report shows need for clarity to avoid further operator costs

The ALMR has responded to the PCA’s report into the Market Rent Only Verification Exercise, by calling for more clarity and guidance to smooth the process for all parties and avoid unnecessary costs for all operators.

The report showed that nearly 500 MRO notices had been served by pub tenants to their landlord, with 11 MRO tenancies agreed and over 130 referrals to the PCA from July 2016 to April 2017.

Kate Nicholls, ALMR’s CEO, said: “It is inevitable that new legislation brings new challenges and the PCA has been given a clear role to oversee its implementation. As it stands, delays and uncertainty are piling costs onto operators.

“The ALMR’s 2017 benchmarking report shows that nearly two-thirds (63%) see a role for the tied model, so it is obviously vital that structures are in place to efficiently and equitably handle MRO cases.

“Yet the overriding message from the report is that, more than a year in, there are still too many grey areas in the process. It needs to deliver assured, decisive action to benefit all parties in disputes. Delays in the process only create unwelcome uncertainties.

“We would welcome a more proactive and conciliatory approach from pub operators. It’s clear that there are some uncommon practices taking place and it’s important that the PCA gives clear guidance on what is legal and acceptable within the spirit of the Code, and to do so at the very earliest opportunity.”

Scottish business rates review must encourage full reform of system

The ALMR has responded to the publication of the Scottish Government’s review of non-domestic rates welcoming steps to streamline the rates system for businesses but calling on both the Scottish and UK Governments to push forward with further reform.

The Barclay review was last year commissioned to chair a review into the non-domestic rates system in Scotland to better support business growth, long term investment and reflect changing marketplaces. Kenneth Barclay’s today makes a series of recommendations for the reform of business rates in Scotland, including:

  • An increase in the frequency of revaluations to every three years from 2022
  • Targeted reductions in bills to help retain shops in town centres
  • A cut in the supplementary charge for large business premises, in line with England
  • A legal duty on businesses to provide information for assessors
  • An extended 12-month period of rates relief for businesses investing in expansion.

ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The Scottish Government’s review of business rate contains a few welcome proposals, but falls somewhat short of the wholesale reform that eating and drinking out businesses need.

“An increase in the frequency of revaluations is welcome, to keep the system as responsive and accurate as possible. And the relief for those businesses that have invested and expanded makes a great deal of sense and is something the ALMR has been pushing for. It is illogical and unfair that businesses that have invested time and a great deal of money in to expanding, employing, and renovating and reinvigorating businesses should then have to face a massive rates hike.”

The review’s remit requirement to safeguard revenue neutrality of business rates prevented it from recommending linking increases to CPI inflation, something for which the ALMR has also pushed. Nevertheless, the report included that option for consideration, following “widespread enthusiasm” for CPI linkage.

“The principal of revenue neutrality is a double-edged sword; eating and drinking out businesses have suffered increased bills at the expense of reductions elsewhere. The review clearly wanted to fully recommend a sensible move towards using CPI to measure increases, which would ensure a more responsive and fairer system for businesses.

“There are some good first steps here, but this must be the launch pad for further action and large, root and branch reform of the system. Westminster must also take some inspiration from this and undertake the full review of business rates that was promised at the Spring Budget and included in manifestos before the election.”

Licensed Industry trade bodies present a unified voice on wage costs

The ALMR, BBPA and BHA gave evidence to the Low Pay Commission on Wednesday, outlining investment by businesses in staff members and sector job creation, but highlighting increasing costs that threaten to undermine further investment.

ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The eating and drinking out sector is one that has been characterised by high levels of growth, strong community and high street investment and record job creation since 2010, with employment up 18% and 1 in 7 jobs created.

“However, that has slowed markedly over the last year to 18 months, partly as a result of economic and currency pressure but largely due to increased regulatory costs, such as business rates, which are in danger of becoming unsustainable in the current trading environment.

“The 2017 ALMR Christie & CO Benchmarking Report shows a drop in growth from 3.4% to 1.1% across the entire sector. At same time, wage costs have jumped by 12% and gross wage costs as a proportion of turnover now stand at 28%.

“Eighty-five percent of businesses have found ways to absorb some of these increased costs, 40% of which have fully absorbed them, resulting in a drop in operating margin, but the sector is approaching a tipping point. Many businesses do not have a cushion against any significant increases and the LPC must understand that large increases in wage rates will threaten future employment and investment.”

BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Given current economic uncertainties and the big increases in costs the industry is facing this year, we do need a cautious approach. The National Living Wage cost the industry around £34 million per year in 2016, with the increase to £7.50 this year adding a further £52 million – an average of around £1,600 for every pub.

“We are also facing significant new costs in other areas, such as the four per cent rise in beer duty in the Budget, auto enrolment pensions, business rates, and the apprenticeship levy.  The LPC does need to weight all these factors carefully when setting rates.”

Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association said: “The BHA urged the Commission to be cautious in setting rates for the National Minimum Wage from April 2018. As there is only one compulsory rate for all regions and nations of the UK, particular attention must be paid to those parts of the country which are struggling economically.

“Whilst the cost pressures on businesses have been well documented there are real risks to revenue from a weakening in corporate and consumer confidence. It is important that the industry’s growth – especially in employment – is maintained through a responsible NMW settlement.”

Pub sector joins forces to demand business rates reform

A coalition of consumers, pub owners, operators and brewers has written to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid to demand immediate and thorough reform of business rates.

The joint letter, co-authored by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) highlights a crippling business rates regime that unfairly and disproportionately punishes pubs, and calls for immediate reform. In a joint comment, the signatory organisations stated:

“We worked very hard in the early part of this year to ensure that rates reform for pubs was on the agenda. The Chancellor took notice of this and pledged to support pubs, but the sector needs wholesale reform of this broken system as a matter of urgency. In the meantime, extending and increasing the £1,000 pub-specific relief would help pubs to continue trading, especially those suffering most acutely, sometimes with the prospect of closure hanging over them.

“All the major political parties included rates reform in their manifestos, so there is cross-party consensus that this issue needs to be addressed. Pubs are being inordinately squeezed by business rates on a level that is not matched in other sectors. The businesses that contribute so much economically and socially, and which have helped to regenerate high streets, are in danger of being forced out of business by a system that does not work.

“The sector is putting this message across with a unified voice to highlight the extent of the problem and the danger that our businesses are facing if the Government does not respond.”

EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL FEES – STRATEGIC STEPS

EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL FEES – STRATEGIC STEPS

The Supreme Court has ruled that Employment Tribunal fees introduced in 2013, which saw a decline in Employment Tribunal applications, are unlawful and that it will take ‘immediate steps’ to stop fees being charged.

The introduction of fees went some way to reducing the number of malicious and weak claims, but scrapping them is expected to result in a dramatic increase in the number of cases.

As an employer this presents a potentially significant risk to your business.

Employment disputes can be costly, disruptive and stressful, so you should make sure that you have expert advice and support in place to ensure that these risks are minimised.

Continue to full article to find out what you can do

ALMR, Issues affecting the Licensed Industry Nationally

 

ALMRALMR Press Notice – immediate 04.08.2017

MAC consultation an opportunity for sector engagement

Coinciding with the launch of its call for evidence today, the ALMR has written to the Migration Advisory Committee carrying out the investigation into the benefits of migrant workers in the UK.

The ALMR’s letter highlights the important economic contribution being made by eating and drinking out businesses and the need for access to EU workers in order to secure growth. It also confirms the ALMR’s intention to provide evidence to the MAC’s consultation to secure a deal for eating and drinking out businesses.

ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nicholls “This is an encouraging first step from the Government and shows that decision-makers are ready to listen to the concerns of employers. Food and drink businesses in the UK are the second largest employer of EU workers and the 5th highest as a percentage of the workforce. It is vital that the Government understands the concerns of the UK’s eating and drinking out businesses and the need for continued access to non-UK workers.

“We have written to the MAC to provide them with the information they need to make an informed decision on an immigration policy that suits employers. We have offered our full support as the voice of eating and drinking out venues and will be responding to the consultation to make sure our members’ voices are heard.

“This is a good opportunity to engage with the Government on an issue that is going to have a huge effect on UK businesses and influence an immigration policy that will have longstanding consequences.”

Government must ditch outdated RPI now

The ALMR has echoed the Office for National Statistics’ sentiments about the unsuitability of using RPI as a measure of inflation and called on the Government bring forward its 2020 switch to CPI for business rates to help reduce burdens for eating and drinking out businesses.

ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The ALMR has repeatedly called for the introduction of CPI for businesses rates and a move away from the current, unworkable system. The Government’s own statistics body agrees that the current system of using RPI is totally discredited and only increases costs on employers.

“The Government’s plan to switch to CPI in 2020 is not soon enough and, given the statements of the ONS and spiralling rates costs for businesses, must take action immediately. We need a move from RPI to CPI in this Parliament in order to support hardworking businesses and eradicate unmerited and unaffordable cost burdens that are stifling investment and employment.

“The move would save eating and drinking out businesses £40 million and would help facilitate discussion between the sector and service providers such as PPL and PRS.

“This simple switch could help minimise inflationary pressures in the supply chain at a time of considerable economic and political uncertainty for the UK.

“This statement by the ONS, that RPI is unfit for purpose, validates what we have been saying to the Government for years. We need action by the Government now, not in 2020, if eating and drinking out venues are to continue to grow.”

ALMR Chief Executive joins Night Time Commission as London focuses on a 24 hour vision

Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of the ALMR, has accepted a Mayoral invitation to take a seat on London’s Night Time Commission, providing a voice for eating and drinking out on a body established by Mayor Sadiq Khan to establish London as one of the world’s best 24-hour cities.

The invitation came in the same week that the Mayor published his own vision for night time London and the ALMR submitted its views to a GLA consultation on the Night Time Economy (NTE). The submission highlights key asks to improve licensing, partnership working, promoting economic growth, planning and the regulatory approach, while again calling for local authorities to expedite business rates support as soon as possible, and to prioritise this sector.

On her appointment to the Night Time Commission, Nicholls said: “Representation on the Commission demonstrates the Mayor’s recognition of the significant value that the eating and drinking out sector brings to London’s Night Time Economy.

“There are 11,000 pubs, bars, restaurants and nightclubs across the capital, employing 217,000 people, and adding £5 billion to London’s economy each year. Night time hospitality accounts for 97,000 night-time jobs in London, and the GLA’s own benefit analysis show shows that for every £1 of cost, the NTE generated £8 of benefit, with that rising to more than £20 in central London boroughs.

“With a voice on the Night Time Commission, the sector will be at the heart of conversations about promoting the city, its businesses and cultural offerings, and ensuring that local authorities, residents and businesses can work in partnership to help the city thrive.”

Hackney levy disastrous for area

The ALMR has warned that Hackney Borough Council’s decision to introduce a late-night levy is likely to have a disastrous effect on the area’s bars, nightclubs and pubs.

Hackney Borough Council voted last night in favour of a levy that will be introduced on 1 November.

ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is an extremely retrograde action by the Council, one that will heap costs on vital businesses in the area and is likely to have a disastrous effect for employers who provide so much.

“Clubs, bars and other late-night venues in Hackney contribute enormously socially and economically, and help make Hackney the vibrant and attractive place it is. Heaping costs on them is only going to risk driving them out of business. Dance Tunnel, a much-loved venue in the area, was forced to close its doors recently due to spiralling costs and a tough legislative environment. This move by the Council only risks closure of even more venues.

“This is particularly disappointing given the recent common sense shown by Gloucester Council in its decision not to introduce a late-night levy and the House of Lords Licensing Committee’s recommendation that the levy be scrapped. Hackney Council is risking investment and employment in the area and the erosion of the vibrant night-time economy.”

Government report must provide swift clarity

The ALMR has welcomed the Government’s plan to assess the economic contribution of EU migrants, but warned that clarity for businesses is overdue.

The Government is to commission the independent Migration Advisory Committee to carry out a detailed analysis of the economic and social contributions and costs of EU citizens in Britain.

The report is the first major investigation into migration from the EU and will inform the Government’s new immigration system.

ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “A detailed investigation into the benefits of migration and the various differing needs of regions and sectors is a positive step from the Government.

“It is absolutely vital that we have in place a system that is not burdensome, costly or overly bureaucratic and provides employers with access to employees. A report that understands and appreciates the value of, and need for, migrant workers should be a benefit.

“It would, however, have been useful if the Government had set about this task immediately after the referendum. Extra time for the Government to assess overall picture and for businesses to plan would have provided much-needed certainty and clarity.

“The ALMR has been highlighting this issue for a year and pressing the Government for a proper examination of this issue since the referendum. We will continue to do so, to ensure that no burdensome requirements are made of eating and drinking out businesses during the short period between the report’s publication and Brexit.”

 

JG & Partners, Latest August News and Others

Nuisance complaints – Parliamentary Briefing

We occasionally alert to Parliamentary Library Briefing Papers of possible passing interest to our sector.

This House of Commons Library briefing paper provides an overview of options for dealing with nuisance together with Government guidance and relevant legislation on various types of nuisance.

Concerns about various kinds of nuisance from neighbouring residential or business premises are common: for example noise, smoke, smells, fumes, light, trees and vegetation and infestations.

Statutory nuisance can occur when the activity of a party on their own premises detracts from another’s the enjoyment of their property or causes a risk to public health.  The legislation covering statutory nuisance is the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Local authorities have a duty to monitor potential nuisance and to investigate complaints of nuisance made by residents. They have a duty to act to stop or prevent the nuisance if they deem it to be a statutory nuisance.

Section 79 of the Act outlines the different types of nuisance which can be dealt with as statutory nuisance.  To be considered a nuisance, an activity must be ongoing or repeated-a one-off event would not usually be considered under the Act.

Hartlepool say no again to EMRO

Posted: 01 Aug 2017 03:00 AM PDT
Following a Licensing Committee meeting on the 26 July 2017 the recommendation that the Licensing Committee should not adopt an EMRO was approved and be put to the full Council. This arises from a request from Safer Hartlepool Partnership to revisit the 2013 decision not to implement an EMRO.

Welcome to our August licensing update

Welcome to our latest monthly update, guaranteed to be the least read of the year (!), clashing as it does with the prime holiday season. The ‘out of offices’ will be considerable we fear – and as for possible staycations, the weather does not presently augur well, so make sure you enjoy a Pina Colada instead (responsibly of course!!)

On to the news as posted to our website this month…

Hemmings – the final reckoning 

The Supreme Court has issued its determination in this long running saga on costs recovery – and unanimously confirmed that insofar as Westminster Council has determined a reasonable fee (including enforcement costs) it is entitled to be paid/repaid by licence holders including those who were applying for a new licence (but that this would need to be according to the pro rata sums actually received by each licence holder). A long running court battle with eventual Council success.Read More Here

Terrorism – Crowded Places Guidance 

Following the terrible attacks in Manchester and London, a new document providing guidance on increasing the protection of crowded places from a terrorist attack has been published.

A copy of the guidance can be found in the link below.

Read More Here

BBPA publishes updated guide on Drugs and Licensed Premises 

Following discussions with the Home Office and National Pubwatch, the BBPA (British Beer & Pub Association) has produced an updated guide for Licensees on the laws surrounding drugs and their associated issues upon licensed premises.Read More Here

New £10 note announced 

The Bank of England has announced that a new polymer £10 note will be issued on 14 September 2017 and has released details of the design and security features of the new note.

A dedicated Bank of England website has been set up to provide further detail: http://www.thenewten.co.ukRead More Here

Hartlepool say no again to EMRO

Following a Licensing Committee meeting on the 26 July 2017 the recommendation that the Licensing Committee should not adopt an EMRO was approved and be put to the full Council.

This arises from a request from Safer Hartlepool Partnership to revisit the 2013 decision not to implement an EMRO.Read More Here

Hackney Council to introduce Late Night Levy in November 

Hackney Council have decided to introduce a Late Night Levy following a period of consultation. The Levy will begin in November and comes despite the recent decisions by other Councils not to introduce one (as below).Read More Here

Gloucester Council choose a BID over Late Night Levy 

Gloucester Council has decided to adopt a BID (Business Improvement District) instead of a Late Night Levy following a ballot on the issue.Read More Here

Food Standards Agency Publishes Local Authority Enforcement Data 

The Food Standards Agency has published the food law enforcement data by Local Authorities, for the year 2016/2017. The information has been released ahead of the full 2016/2017 statistics report and is part of a drive by the Food Standards Agency, to improve transparency, when presenting individual Local Authority food hygiene and food standards statistics.Read More Here

Travelling Miles so you can

It’s been a busy month on the road for Paul Henocq at our offices, Paul has been travelling to far flung Courts to assist with protecting our clients’ driving licences.

For many in our industry, protecting their driving licence is as important as the pints that are pulled and the food that is served at the premises.

To lose a licence through a point’s disqualification could cause “exceptional hardship” to the individual, their family and their employer. A minimum six months driving disqualification can be imposed for becoming a “totter” on the accumulation of 12 Points on your licence.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of your Licence being at risk by accumulation of points, please contact Paul who can advise on the Court process and available representations to keep you driving.

Scotland – Dundee – New Overprovision 

Following the Aldi Stores Ltd v Dundee City Licensing Board case on 12 August 2016, where the Dundee Sherriff overturned the current Alcohol Overprovision Policy, Council officers have been reviewing the Board’s options. At their meeting on 29 June 2017, the Board voted unanimously to adopt a new whole Board approach for Off-sales & On-Sales – excluding On/Off sales for the City, by Ward & City Centre/ Central Waterfront. Formerly the Waterfront area has been excluded from the policy. This policy must now be subject to public consultation.Read More Here

Gambling – Commission unveils new enforcement strategy 

Following their consultation earlier this year the Gambling Commission have published a new enforcement strategy which will be used to tackle operators who breach gambling regulations – and which takes immediate effect.Read More Here

Gambling – Gambling Commission – Key Performance Indicators 

Amongst various issues discussed during the Gambling Industry Lawyer’s Group meeting held at the Gambling Commission’s offices in Birmingham last month which we attended, the recently published Key Performance Indicators (‘KPIs’) for the Licensing team were highlighted. The KPIs are already available on the Commission’s website and generally represent an extension of the former timescales within which the Commission anticipated it would determine certain applications.Read More Here

And finally…common sense and the Law…

You may have seen in the national press that a five-year-old girl was fined £150 for running a stall selling cups of homemade lemonade to passers by. The schoolgirl was accused of trading without a licence by a council enforcement officer.

The young girl’s father said he was shocked, adding that the difference between his daughter’s lemonade stand and an unlicensed street trader should have been common sense.

The fine was dropped and an apology issued by Tower Hamlets council  “We are very sorry that this has happened. We expect our enforcement officers to show common sense, and to use their powers sensibly. This clearly did not happen. The fine will be cancelled immediately”

A small victory for  young operators everywhere! See you next month.