View this newsletter in your browser

Propel Morning Briefing Mast Head Paul's Twitter Link Propel Info website John Gaunt Banner Legal Briefing from John Gaunt
Wed 10th Jul 2024 - Legal Briefing

The results are in – what’s next by Michelle Hazlewood

What a week! The general election has ushered in the first change of government in 14 years, a monumental shift in the political landscape. The British Grand Prix has also brought excitement, with three British drivers taking the top three spots in qualifying for the first time in decades, and in the quarter-finals of the Euros, England’s men again overcame the curse of penalties that has long haunted them as they came away with a win against Switzerland. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions.

As the Euros move towards their thrilling conclusion and the whole country is praying that it is indeed coming home, it’s crucial to highlight some of the best practices required to screen the remaining games. The police have noted that while fans have generally behaved well this tournament, the increasing pressure could change this dynamic. For those planning to show the games at their venue, it’s vital to check your licences for any special requirements that you may need. Consider whether employing Security Industry Authority (SIA) personnel would be beneficial, and opt for plastic cups to mitigate risks as we all know pints often get tossed into the air during goals. Beer showers have weirdly become the norm, so be prepared for a celebratory mess. Brief your staff thoroughly before the events to ensure they understand their roles and know how to handle situations if they escalate should things turn sour.

Now, on to the politics. In our previous Propel article, we dissected the main parties’ manifestoes ahead of the general election and noted a lack of detailed proposals. However, in the weeks leading up to the election, Labour added substantial details to its plans, particularly concerning the hospitality sector. With a new Labour government now in place, their overarching mantra is “change”.

Post-election, the implementation of change is divided into two main timelines: (i) actions within the first 100 days; and (ii) proposals for the entire parliamentary term. Industry leaders are calling for immediate action, particularly the replacement of business rates to avoid the cliff edge from the loss of current concessions in April 2025, along with apprenticeship levy reforms. While the desire for swift change is understandable, practical constraints must be acknowledged. A July election means parliament will soon go on summer recess, and by the time party conferences conclude, the 100 days will nearly be over.

Unfortunately, it is not realistic to expect new legislation within this timeframe. Instead, I believe these initial days should focus on sorting the details of the potential legislation, communicating with relevant stakeholders to reform business rates sensibly, and considering how to adapt the apprenticeship levy to be fair yet still promote rewarding careers in hospitality. Labour proposes to replace the apprenticeship levy with a skills and growth levy, allowing employers to spend up to half their levy on training outside apprenticeships. A new body, Skills England, would help decide what training should be fundable, and it is currently unknown whether this would include hospitality sector training.

Identifying the key players in the new government is also essential for our sector to know so that we can ensure that the campaigns are ushered in the right direction. Lisa Nandy, the new secretary of state for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, will play a crucial role. Nandy has been a strong advocate for investing in towns and levelling up, and she now has the opportunity to drive significant tourism and hospitality initiatives. Let’s hope she can fit into the role quickly as it was not originally expected that she would step into this position – but Nandy seems poised to take big strides.

Yvette Cooper as home secretary and Jonathan Reynolds as business secretary also have significant influence. Both have garnered confidence from the markets, suggesting stability. Cooper’s influence on policing priorities can impact the hospitality sector, especially regarding night-time economy issues like knife crime. Reynolds, with his background in hospitality, understands the industry’s challenges. He has committed to a review of the business tax regime, including hospitality, and aims to reform the planning system to help businesses grow.

In 2023, at a UKHospitality conference, Reynolds said: “You will appreciate those commitments are hard to make in opposition, especially with the fiscal situation we will inherit. But I can assure you we are listening. Our review of the business tax regime, looking at increasing certainty and investment, will include the hospitality sector.” He said Labour would work with the hospitality industry on reforms to the planning system “to ensure businesses can grow.” Reynolds told the conference his first job was as a waiter at the Chiltern Lodge Country Retreat in County Durham and said hospitality was “vital to our economy”. He added: “I am proud to tell you I can still silver serve, which I’m not sure is the case for many of the business secretaries I have shadowed.”

Labour has committed to giving local communities a new right to buy power, an extension of the existing “community right to bid”. This would allow communities to tag buildings at risk and potentially intervene in sales, offering a chance to preserve valuable community assets. This proposal aligns with the Heritage Pubs Bill, which aimed to create a register of heritage public houses. With this new right, we might see fewer beloved local pubs turned into convenience stores or trendy flats – a trend that has sadly been on the rise in the local headlines recently.

New prime minister Sir Keir Starmer and chancellor Rachel Reeves have also expressed support for the hospitality sector, hinting at a possible alcohol duty freeze continuation as it is currently being held until 1 August. Supporting hospitality is crucial for economic recovery, especially in light of the industry’s contributions to jobs and tax revenues. Now that is worth toasting!

As we move forward, the politicians now in place must consider both immediate and long-term timelines. While the first 100 days will focus on setting the groundwork for significant reforms, the overarching goal should be a sustainable future for the hospitality sector. This involves not only immediate economic measures, but also a vision for the next generation. Regenerating town centres and ensuring a stable, supportive environment for hospitality businesses are vital for long-term economic success.

The past week has been a testament to change. The new Labour government has a unique opportunity to enact meaningful reforms that could benefit the hospitality sector and the broader economy. By balancing immediate actions with a long-term vision, it can ensure that this period of transition leads to lasting positive impacts. The challenge now is to turn slogans into strategies, promises into policies, and ideas into implementation. It’s time to roll up the sleeves, pop a few corks in celebration and get down to the business of building a brighter future.

As we watch these events unfold, let’s remain optimistic, yet realistic. Change, after all, doesn’t happen overnight. It requires careful planning, thoughtful legislation and a commitment to long-term goals. Here’s to hoping that the winds of change bring prosperity, growth and a rejuvenated spirit to our beloved nation. Cheers to new beginnings and the promise of a brighter tomorrow!
Michelle Hazlewood is a partner at John Gaunt & Partners

To view our Privacy Policy Click Here
John Gaunt Banner