Ground-breaking report surveys the impact of COVID-19 on the pubs industry
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pubs (Pubs APPG) has launched its ground-breaking ‘Raising the Bar’ report, which aims to quantify the effect of the pandemic on pubs and the people who run them and identify opportunities to create a thriving pub sector.
The Inquiry received over 15,000 responses from publicans, consumers, industry groups and academics – with many reporting that the Government did not understand the pub trade as well as it could, and that the current legislative framework surrounding the pub trade is disjointed.
It outlines key recommendations to Government, including:
- Significant tax reforms to address the disproportionately high Business Rates paid by pubs and extending the duration of the reduced rate of VAT for hospitality.
- Action on the growing debt crisis, with rent debt and Bounce Back Loan repayments seen as barriers to success throughout the trade.
- Refinement of Pubs Code legislation to ensure a fairer deal for tied tenants in England and Wales, and additional resources for the office of the Pubs Code Adjudicator.
- Direct investment into the sector, including building on existing training schemes, and improving access to digital services for pubs.
The report found that 95% of consumers surveyed rated their local pub as ‘very’ or ‘fairly important’ to them, while 60% disapproved of the level of Government support given to pubs.
While the full impact of the pandemic is still not clear, early indications are that 5% of pub businesses (2,500) closed in 2020 alone, and almost 400 have been lost or redeveloped, averaging at six per week.
This loss has been particularly hard-hitting for people who feel underrepresented in the wider pub-going population, such as members of the LGBTQ+ community who commented that the venues they use are vital to their wellbeing yet poorly supported by public policy.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Pubs APPG Chair Charlotte Nichols said: “The Pubs APPG Inquiry received thousands of responses showing the passion, creativity, commitment, and resilience of licensees, pub staff, consumers, and industry representatives.
“With support from Government, pubs are uniquely positioned to drive economic recovery from the pandemic, while continuing to play a key role in fighting loneliness and encouraging community cohesion.
“However, it’s clear that policymakers must take action to address the roadblocks to recovery identified in the Raising the Bar report, and I look forward to working with colleagues in Parliament to ensure pubs receive the support they need.”
Chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale – the consumer rights organisation that provides secretariat services to the Pubs APPG – Nik Antona commented: “This is a crucial moment for pubs, and I hope Government will see this report as an opportunity to raise the bar. Without legislative reform and greater investment in the trade, thousands of pubs across the country face an uncertain future. We need action from the Government to keep these vital businesses, and local communities they serve, thriving.”
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pubs (Pubs APPG) is made up of MPs from all parties and groupings, and aims to promote and support pubs, landlords and the communities around them.
CAMRA provides the secretariat service for the Pubs APPG. More details on the Inquiry can be found on the APPG’s website.