Covid-19 – Pubs Need Help
Promoting, supporting and protecting pubs
Covid-19 and pubs – pubs need help NOW
The pub trade is under existential threat from forced closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pubs were told to close on Friday 20th March (following pubs being put in the wholly unreasonable situation on Monday 16th March where the Government advised people not to go to the pub, but without closing or supporting them).
The Campaign for Pubs and the British Pub Confederation are calling on Government to support pubs for as long as the Government restricts trade.
The furloughing measures have been a lifeline for pubs, but the forthcoming changes are concerning. It isn’t fair for the Government to be asking pubs to contribute to staff costs when Government policy continues to make it impossible or unviable for pubs to trade. Many community pubs simply cannot open with social distancing measures in place and if they are forced to pay not only rent (see below) but also staff costs when they can’t even trade, then many pubs will close.
It is welcome that the Government has provided grants for some pubs, to allow them to survive the forced closure period and the social distancing restrictions to follow. However only pubs with a rateable value of up to £51,000 can apply, leaving around a fifth of pubs unsupported. This is unfair and risks many of these pubs closing. The Campaign for Pubs supports the Raise the Bar campaign calling for this arbitrary limit to be lifted so that community pubs of all sizes can be given essential help to cover the loss of trade.
Property costs, whether rent or mortgage, are the biggest cost pubs are facing and to get through this crisis, publicans should not be charged commercial rent and mortgage lenders must give mortgage holidays, whilst pubs are unable to open and trade. We back a #NationalTimeOut rent-free period and the No Pub No Rent campaign. It is a scandal that many pub owners continue to charge full rent through the pub closure period, despite it being illegal for pubs to trade.
Also, just as importantly, once pubs are allowed to open again, but with social distancing measures in place, trade will be restricted, as well as pubs having to invest in measures to be able to open at all. So rent must be reduced accordingly, for all pubs and for those pubs that cannot open viably or at all, commercial rent should not be charged until then can. Mortgage providers too must recognise that trade will be reduced or impossible for some time and show flexibility in assisting publicans until trade is unrestricted and gets back the previous levels.
The voice of pubs & publicans must be heard
As is alas typical when it comes to the pub sector, those who have the most money (the pubcos and global brewers) can shout loudest. The Government must properly engage with those who represent pubs and publicans and listen to the issues facing them, as oppose to the issues facing large pub owning companies
So from now on, when engaging on trade matters, the Government must include independent organisations who represent pubs and publicans, including the British Pub Confederation, not only those who represent the large pubcos and wider interests.
Insurers must pay and must continue to insure
At the same time as publicans are facing an existential threat, they are finding that their insurance policies, which cost thousands of pounds yearly, are worthless. Insurers are using unfair means to block claims and thus paying out billions of pounds in justified claims.
Campaign for Pubs Campaign Director Greg Mulholland, as Chair of the British Pub Confederation recently wrote to BEIS Minister Paul Scully MP:
- “The situation facing pubs and insurance is dire. The way many insurance companies have responded to this crisis is disgraceful with most pubs reporting to us that they have been unable to claim for the loss of trade from their insurers (when this should be precisely what insurance is for). This is, of course, as you are well aware, hugely increasing the need for Government support as well as reflecting very poorly on the insurance industry. So we urge the Government to intervene to ensure pubs and other business are able to claim for loss of trade.”
- “There is potentially a further disastrous situation going forward too. Pubs now face a situation where they may not be insured against further loss of trade or closure, or even from being sued by customers who claim they have been exposed to the virus at the pub. So the Government must also step in and instruct insurers to provide proper cover to pubs, without raising premiums, to allow them to operate or you will see licensees unable to put themselves at risk and walking away or in a situation where they are unable to reopen until a vaccine is fully available.”
Campaign for Pubs will campaign vigorously to help publicans fight for justice and fair play from the insurance companies and the insurance industry.
One thing is vitally important – that all of us who care about pubs do get out and support them as soon as they are able to open and trade again. We need to help pubs and publicans through the difficult months to come, as social distancing remains in place and as levels of trade gradually recover. Your local pubs need you to help them get through this!
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