Archive | January, 2014

Shadow Pubs Minister

Pubs at increased risk of insolvency whilst government drags feet

Toby Perkins MP, Labour’s Shadow Pub’s Minister, has warned that government foot dragging on pubs regulation could threaten the future of even more pubs, following the release of new insolvency figures.

According to research by R3, the insolvency trade body, the proportion of businesses in the UK pubs and bars sector at risk of insolvency in the next 12 months is much higher than in the rest of the economy.

  • 37% of the UK’s pubs and bars (equivalent to 5,500) have a higher than normal risk of entering an insolvency procedure in the next 12 months.
  • When compared to all businesses in the UK pubs and bars have a higher than normal risk of insolvency – by 12 percentage points.
  • The South East has the highest share of ‘at risk’ businesses in the pubs and bars industry (41%).
  • Northern Irish pubs, the one nation in the United Kingdom which does not have PubCos, are amongst the ‘healthiest’ with only 23% of pubs and bars have a higher than normal insolvency risk.

Toby Perkins said:

Shadow Pubs Minister

“These figures yet again demonstrate the urgent need for reform in the pub trade.  In January 2013 the Tory-led government promised to introduce a statutory code to rebalance the unfair relationship between large pub companies and the licencees.

“Nothing has changed so this week I called an opposition day debate in Parliament to demand a bill in this year’s Queen Speech.  The government refused and instead voted to give themselves yet more time to decide what to do.

“These latest figures show that the longer we delay the more pubs our local communities will lose.  We need action now.”

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IMG_1785

We need a banking system that helps small businesses instead of hindering them

People in Chesterfield are facing the worst cost of living crisis in a generation.

Prices are soaring, wages are falling, working people are £1,600 per year worse off and small businesses are struggling to access the finance they need to grow. Yet David Cameron continues to demonstrate how out of touch he is with the struggles millions are facing and is determined to operate our economy as business as usual.

I’m delighted that Labour has made firm plans to help people struggling with the rising cost of living, such as our pledge to freeze energy bills until 2017. But as important as this pledge is, it only helps to deal with the consequences of our current economic state, and not the symptoms.

The Tory-led Government has failed to make the long-term changes needed to build a new economy that works for everyone and not just a few at the top.

IMG_1785The Tories won’t build a new economy that can tackle the cost of living crisis. They are determined to cling on to the old economy in a global race to the bottom. They think low wages, low skills and insecure work is the way to take Britain forward in the hope that some of the wealth will trickle down from the top.

If we’re serious about dealing with the cost of living crisis and winning the race to the top with countries like China and India, then we need to build a new economy that works for everyone, and that means dealing with one of Britain’s broken markets: our banking system that works for banks but not for businesses and families.

Britain’s banking system is dominated by just four banks that control 85 per cent of small business lending. This lack of competition is a root cause of poor service, a breakdown of trust and a massive drop of £56bn in lending to business since May 2010.

Part of the reason we rely too much on low paid, insecure work is that the small firms that could create the good, high paying jobs of the future can’t get the finance they need to grow both themselves and our economy.

We need to support local small and medium sized enterprises like Crush Design or Northern Tea Merchants so they can grow our economy for the future and that means promoting a wider range of banks that have to compete harder with each other for customers.

That’s why the next Labour Government will bring in a legal threshold to ensure no bank can get too big and that the market remains competitive for the long-term. We will improve the amount of lending to small businesses, improve the service to all customers and create new banks that will work for the communities they serve.

Under a Labour Government, small businesses will have a better chance of getting the support they need to grow, employ more people at decent wages and help Britain earn its way to better living standards for everyone.

By Toby Perkins MP
Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, Shadow Small Business Minister  

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Toby and the Spire

Standing up for local pubs: Toby’s Derbyshire Times Column for this week

Pubs are part of the social fabric of Chesterfield.  Anyone who doubts the affection in which Chesterfield folk hold their locals, only need to look at community campaigns to save pubs like The Crispin.

But unfortunately pubs are in trouble.  The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) estimates that 26 pubs close each week and that each closure costs local economies like ours £80,000.

Many factors are behind this, including changing lifestyles and the increase in VAT.

But there is no doubt that the unfair and unbalanced relationship between large Pub Companies (known as PubCos) and their licencees has been a key factor in pub closures in Chesterfield and beyond.

Toby and the SpireMany landlords I meet in Chesterfield dreamt of opening a pub so they could be their own boss.  Unfortunately this dream is too often shattered.  The PubCos own three quarters of Britain’s pubs and usually require their licencees to buy all drinks products from them, at whatever price they determine.  There are also many disputes about setting of rents on pubs, and even cases where a licencee works hard to increase the profit of their pub only to see this swallowed up in increased rents the next year.

Despite the problems facing the industry it is still shocking that CAMRA estimates that three fifths of landlords tied to PubCos earn less than the minimum wage.

The cross-party Business Select Committee has investigated this issue several times and has consistently recommended a strengthened statutory code to rebalance this relationship.

By the time Derbyshire Times readers read this, I will have used a parliamentary debate on PubCos to call for this year’s Queen’s Speech to include such a code.  I believe there is also a majority in parliament amongst MPs of all parties in support of these measures and I hope that parliament will have united behind three key principles appearing in a strengthened code:

1. The Beer Tie, where landlords can only buy products from their PubCo, works for some licencees.  However, for many others it means they can only buy limited products at inflated prices.  I want every landlord to have the choice of whether to go free-of-tie.  This would allow licencees to but the beer in a re-constructed market which would actually be more open and competitive.

2. When a new licencee takes over a pub, or when an existing rent contract expires and is renegotiated, there should be a fully transparent and independent rent review completed by a qualified surveyor.

3. There must be a truly independent body to monitor the regulations and adjudicate in disputes between licencees and pubcos.

This idea is backed by a coalition broad enough to include small business groups, pub enthusiasts and trade unions who have all been demanding the code be introduced for four years.

Of course this won’t cure all of the problems facing the traditional local overnight, but it could see the start of a fight back against the wave of local pub closures.

We can all drink to that.

By Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield and Shadow Pubs Minister

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Toby Perkins MP pulling the first beers with festival organiser Jane Lefley

Toby demands Pubs Bill THIS year

Tomorrow (Tuesday) Labour will use an Opposition Day debate to demand that the Government introduces legislation in this year’s Queen’s Speech to support local pubs.

The text of Labour’s motion, published today, calls for legislation to introduce a statutory code protecting small landlords and ensuring they are no longer exploited in their relationship with pub companies. As campaigners have demanded, the code must include a free-of-tie option, open market rent reviews and an independent pubs adjudicator.

Toby Perkins MP pulling the first beers with festival organiser Jane LefleyThis mirrors a motion passed by the House of Commons two years ago in January 2012. A year later in January 2013 in response to a Labour Opposition Day debate ministers committed to introducing a statutory code but 12 months later have still failed to do so. Ed Miliband used his appearance on the Andrew Marr show to talk about why his future Labour government would take action to repair markets that were failing to function fairly or competitively and discussed the Pubco reforms in that context.

Toby Perkins MP, Labour’s Shadow Pubs Minister, said:

“We are demanding that ministers introduce a Pubs Bill in this year’s Queen’s Speech to give local pubs the protection they need and so that landlords get a fair deal.

“A broad coalition including CAMRA, business organisations and trade unions are backing a new statutory code with teeth. This week Labour is demanding that ministers stop dragging their feet at a time when 26 pubs are closing every week.

“A year ago, in response to pressure from campaigners and Labour, Ministers said they’d take action but twelve months later they’ve failed to do. That’s why we need to see legislation brought forward this year. If the Tory-led Government fails to act, voters will know that only by voting Labour can they bring about the fairness that Britain’s much-loved pubs so desperately need.”

The text of Labour’s Commons opposition day debate motion on pub companies:

That this House notes that it is two years since it passed the motion on pub companies on 12 January 2012; remains of the view that the BIS Select Committee was right to state that only a statutory code of practice which includes a mandatory rent only option for pub companies who own over 500 pubs, including an open market rent review and an independent adjudicator will resolve the contractual problems between the big pub companies and their lessees; notes that pub closures are increasing, believes that the government should now bring forward legislation to introduce a statutory code of the kind recommended by the BIS Select Committee without further delay, and by the Queen’s Speech 2014 at the latest, with the Bill receiving a Second Reading before the summer recess.

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Toby Perkins MP with bingo enthusiasts and representatives from the Bingo Association

MP’s bingo-ing all-out for popular game

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins joined some of the town’s keenest bingo players for a game on Friday and met with industry representatives to discuss taxation levied on the sector.

Toby Perkins MP with bingo enthusiasts and representatives from the Bingo Association

Toby Perkins MP with bingo enthusiasts and representatives from the Bingo Association

Bingo is enjoying its highest levels of popularity in a generation with record numbers of young people taking up the pastime. A recent survey found 61% of British adults said they feel bingo clubs provide an ‘important local service, and bring communities together’.

However, bingo is subjected to Gross Profits Tax of 20% – 5% more than the GPT levied at bookmakers and 7% more than lottery tickets.

Bingo industry leaders, backed by Mr Perkins, are now calling for a cut in GPT to 15%, allowing them to invest in their premises’ and create jobs.

Speaking to bingo enthusiasts at Mecca’s Foljambe Road hall, Mr Perkins said:  “I am pleased to support the bingo industry’s efforts to petition government to rethink how it levies taxes on the game.

“Bingo brings adults of all ages together to socialise in a lively and fun environment, and I am fully behind this campaign. I enjoyed the games I had at Mecca and I look forward to raising issues facing the sector with ministers in Parliament.”

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logo4

Local MP ‘takes a step’ against prejudice by signing Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment

Marking Holocaust Memorial Day this month, Toby Perkins MP signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, honouring those who died during the Holocaust as well as honouring the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people about what they endured.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2014Monday 27th January will mark the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

In the weeks leading up to and after Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

Toby Perkins said:

“Holocaust Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau – and is an important opportunity to remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. I encourage all constituents to mark the day and to join members of my community in the fight against prejudice and intolerance.”

logo4Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:

“We are proud that Toby is supporting Holocaust Memorial Day.  It is vitally important that we both continue to remember and learn from the appalling events of the Holocaust – as well as ensuring that we continue to challenge antisemitism and all forms of bigotry.”

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BISL

Another year, another pubs debate …

Latest blog by Toby Perkins MP.

I often say that one of the best things about my job is that no two days are the same. But, for the first time since I became Shadow Minister for Pubs, I’m getting a strange feeling of déjà vu. This is now the third January in a row I’ve been involved in a grassroots campaign to drag ministers to the House of Commons to talk about supporting British pubs.

Pubs need this support so they can get a fair deal.  Most people know a favoured local which has been left derelict or transformed into a supermarket.  These personal stories are reflected by the national figures.  The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) estimates that 26 pubs close each week and that each closure costs the local economy £80,000. Pubs are more than just businesses – they are community hubs, part of the fabric of neighbourhoods which bind us together.

That is why it is so important that we fix the unbalanced and unfair relationship between landlords and the large pub companies (known as PubCos) from whom they rent their premises. In the House of Commons on Tuesday we will be repeating our call for a proper statutory code to govern this relationship and protect landlords.

Many landlords used to dream of opening a pub so they could be their own boss and run their own business.  Unfortunately this dream all too often is not matched by reality. The PubCos own three quarters of Britain’s pubs and often require their licencees to buy all drinks products from them, at whatever price they determine.  There also many disputes about setting of rents on pubs, and even cases where a licencee works hard to increase the profit of their pub only to see this swallowed up in increased rents the next year. The PubCos have been accused of creating perverse incentives to squeeze short-term finance out of their properties rather than promote long term stability. No wonder CAMRA estimates that three fifths of landlords tied to PubCos earn less than the minimum wage.

The cross-party BIS Select Committee has investigated this issue several times and has consistently recommended a strengthened statutory code to rebalance this relationship.  Such a step is also supported by trade unions and small business groups.  However, the Tory-led government has consistently failed to act.

A new statutory code would not be a silver bullet addressing all of the challenges that publicans face, but it would certainly make a positive difference.

In January 2012 the House voted unanimously to introduce such a code, but the government did nothing.  So in January 2013 I called an Opposition Day Debate to highlight this inaction.  Just 24 hours ahead of the debate the government announced a dramatic u-turn and promised finally to introduce the code.  But a year later, in January 2014, despite a lengthy consultation, nothing has changed in legal terms.

So next Tuesday we will be debating the issue once again.

I will make a genuine offer to work collaboratively to get a code on the statute book to support local publicans.  But any new code must meet three key tests:

1. The Beer Tie, whereby landlords can only buy products from their PubCo, works for some licencees.  However, for many others it means they can only buy limited products at inflated prices.  We want every landlord to have the choice of whether to go free-of-tie.  This would allow licencees to operate in a re-constructed market which would actually be more competitive.

2. When a new licencee takes over a pub, or when an existing rent contract expires and is renegotiated, there should be a fully transparent and independent rent review completed by a qualified surveyor.

3. There must be a truly independent body to monitor the regulations and adjudicate in disputes between licencees and pubcos.

Many Lib Dems privately claim that they are persuaded of the need for these measures, but have difficulty persuading the Tory side of the coalition. I hope we are able to gain enough support from right across the House to ensure that next Tuesday marks the start of a brighter future for this great British industry.

Toby Perkins MP
Labour MP for Chesterfield and Shadow Pubs Minister 

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TP interview in his office

Lib Dems are backing the Tories all the way

A view from Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield and Shadow Small Business Minister
This can also be viewed at: http://www.politicshome.com/uk/article/91091/lib_dems_are_backing_the_tories_all_the_way.html

***

“On the Andrew Marr show, we saw the usual effort from the Liberal Democrat leader to differentiate himself and his party from their Coalition partners.  This time, he tried to claim that the difference between him and David Cameron was that he believed in doing things ‘fairly’.

TP interview in his office

But, as usual for Nick Clegg, his actions speak louder than his words.

If Nick Clegg believes in doing things fairly – why did he back the Bedroom Tax, which hits some of the most vulnerable people in society?  Almost two-thirds of the people hit by the Bedroom Tax are disabled and the Government has admitted that 60,000 carers are hit by this cruel measure.

And if, as he said, he believes that those with broad shoulders should be making the largest contribution – why did he back a tax cut for millionaires?  While Nick Clegg has been Deputy Prime Minister prices have risen faster than wages for 41 out of 42 months and working people have seen their pay fall by an average of £1,600 a year.

But rather than tackling this cost of living crisis for ordinary working families, Nick Clegg has backed the Tories as they give a tax cut to people with incomes over £150,000.

In yet another example of his brass neck, Nick Clegg also suggested this week that he was opposed to his Government’s scheme to encourage employees to give away their rights in exchange for shares.  He referred to it as a ‘pet project’ for the Tories.  But if he and his Party object to it so strongly, why did they introduce, speak in favour of and vote for the legislation?  The truth is that Nick Clegg and his Party backed this Tory ‘pet project’, and they are equally responsible for it.

When Nick Clegg tries to pull stunts like this, it’s no wonder that people don’t believe a word he says.  Not only does he break his promises (tuition fees, special advisers, Sure start to name a few), but he refuses to take responsibility for his actions.

He talks about fairness – and then he votes for measures that are anything but fair.  He tries to claim that the Liberal Democrats are a restraining influence in Government, holding the Tories back.  But the truth is that he and his Party aren’t holding the Tories back – they are backing them all the way.  Once again, the only real message that came out of this week’s press conference is that you can’t trust a word that Nick Clegg says.”

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Welcome

I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries in Chesterfield and Staveley so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Email: toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF

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