Raising a glass to the Great British local
Brandon Lewis is Member of Parliament for Great Yarmouth, Minister for Local Government, Fire & Rescue and Community Pubs. Follow Brandon on Twitter.
My new year's resolution is to make the Great British pub the hub of a resurgent economy.
Like most small businesses, life for the local hasn't been easy in recent times. Some have been forced to close down, others have been hit hard by rowdy rabble rowsers.
But against the odds the great British pub is bouncing back. The industry predicts there will be 13,000 new jobs behind the bar in the new year.
A modern local is still a place to grab a swift half after work. Still the place to watch the match. Still the life and soul of the party. Or the ideal place to grab a morning coffee break, with over 3 million cups of coffee sold in a year.
So I think it's high time we paid tribute to the folk behind the bar down the Jolly Farmers, Dog and Duck, the Ship and Anchor, the Queen Vic and the Rovers Return. What makes these spirited entrepreneurs (…probably) the best in the world is that they understand the first law of business: to pull the punters in, put the customer first.
And their heady cocktail of innovation and ingenuity is firing up our economy. Adding £19 billion to the country's coffers. Creating almost a million jobs, with almost 50% of employees under the age of 25.
Our proud publicans are the best of British. And to help them brew success, support is on tap.
We're doubling business rate relief - so small firms like local pubs benefit from up to 100 per cent discounts.
We've put council tax revaluation on the back burner - which could have left local pubs out of pocket. We have put money into a great organisation called Pub is the Hub, helping community pubs diversify.
We've canned the last government’s cider tax.
And we've even cut red tape - making it easier for publicans to play live music and entice a new crowd through the doors.
What's more, locals no longer need suffer in silence while if their local pub faces closure. Our right to bid gives them a fighting chance to save it for posterity and community ownership is already growing.
So three cheers for the Great British pub. 2013 is set to be a Stella year — and the success of our pubs could be just the tonic to revive our nation's fortunes.