Response to Draft Budget

15 December 2010

Following the announcement today of the draft budget for Northern Ireland, Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Pubs of Ulster said:

�The proposals outlined in today�s draft budget will hopefully have a positive impact on the Northern Ireland economy and local businesses who have been struggling, including the local pub trade. �We welcome proposals such as those on non-domestic rates which will see business rates remain limited to 2.7 per cent per year as outlined in the 2008-2011 Budget. We also hope that the draft budget will assist in the increase in the economic contribution of the tourism sector which is integral to the success of the pub industry and the promotion of accessible job opportunities. �As the full details of the draft budget are announced and assessed, we call upon the Executive to carefully consider the proposals that directly and indirectly impact the pub industry in Northern Ireland. We have been encouraged by the creative measures adopted to generate revenue, such as the plastic bag levy, and we hope to see further similar proposals in the draft budget. We would particularly like to see the introduction of a supermarket off licence levy, as proposed by the SDLP, which would impose a charge on large off licence retail premises over a specified square footage. Not only will this generate approximately �2 million for the local economy, but it would also have a positive effect on the local licensed trade by helping to create a more equal market for pubs to operate in. This in turn could increase the already significant contribution the pub trade makes to the local economy which currently stands at �1 billion per year. With 70% of alcohol now consumed at home, the levy could also be a step towards addressing the issue of binge drinking and alcohol related anti-social behaviour.�