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Campaign for Pubs writes to the Prime Minister calling for a tiered package of support for all pubs and publicans

The Campaign for Pubs, the national grassroots campaign group representing pubs, publicans and pub-goers, have written to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to announce a tiered package of support including support for all pubs and publicans, following the commencement of the new Tier system of Covid-19 restrictions, with all pubs facing restrictions to trade and thousands of pubs having no financial support.

The letter coincides with the news that London and seven other areas are moving into the Tier 2 category, facing an effective ban on socialising, yet with the Government providing no financial support.  The other areas are Essex, Elmbridge, Surrey, Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, York, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield and Erewash, Derbyshire. As the letter states, “The reality is that the Government has completely hung Tier 2 pubs out to dry and consigned them to trading unprofitably, with no support. This is wrong and completely unacceptable”.

The letter also highlights the fact that all pubs and hospitality are still subject to the damaging and dangerous 10pm curfew and table service, which makes staff less safe and increases pub costs. Yet these measures have been brought in without any financial support for thousands of pubs, despite the disastrous impact these measures will have on pub trade.

The Campaign for Pubs letter also points out that the reality of the grants for pubs forced to close in Tier 3 areas (currently the Liverpool City Region) does not even cover ongoing costs of pubs forced to close, never mind providing any support for publicans and their families finding themselves with no income. The level of support on offer from the Government won’t even cover ongoing costs, especially rent but also utility bills and loss of stock. This shortfall means that in reality no actual income support is being provided for publicans and their families facing a winter with no earnings and only the prospect of getting further into debt.

Wet-led pubs in Liverpool were given just 2 days notice of a decision to close, despite the reality and cost of disposing of stock and shutting the business down, compounded by the uncertainty of when they might be allowed to open again.

The letter also challenges the decision to close wet led pubs and micropubs in Tier 3, and yet allow large pub chains, restaurants and fast-food outlets to remain open. The Sage advice clearly states “CDC report suggests that those who test positive [are] twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant”. Yet the Government has ignored this and has made the opposite decision – to close pubs that do not serve food whilst allowing restaurants to stay open, which is perverse (and undermines Government claims to be following the science).

Overall there seems to be a complete failure to understand the awful reality of trade levels for the majority of pubs at the moment, directly due to the Government’s restrictions. Under the current circumstances – and with the Government having no apparent plan of when restrictions might end or this destructive cycle of semi-closures and closures – the only option many pubs with staff have is to make staff redundant or to close the pub, either temporarily or permanently, which will obviously spell an end to any associated jobs altogether. This surely cannot be your intention but it is the reality for many pubs.

The clear message being given is that the Government doesn’t care about our traditional pubs and community locals, but seems interested only in supporting larger pub and restaurant chains and corporate fast-food outlets. Thousands of hardworking independent publicans are feeling completely ignored and let down by the Government and we urge you to listen and address this.

The Campaign for Pubs is calling for a tiered package of support for all pubs and publicans with

  • Tier 2 pubs need to be able to access the same level of support as Tier 3 pubs, if trade is at a level where they cannot trade viably or if they take the decision that they need to close rather than make losses.
  • Support for Tier 2 and 3 pubs needs to be enhanced to take into account (a) fixed costs (rent/mortgage payments) and (b) separate to the grant, payments to cover the loss of stock from closure or restrictions and the cost of mothballing pubs then reopening them.

All pubs (Tier 1, 2 and 3) need the following support:

  • 5% (or even better zero) VAT on ALL sales in pubs
  • A business rates holiday extension, with a complete overhaul for business rates for pubs prior to recommencing.
  • A statutory right to an immediate rent review for all pubs, to tackle the fact many pubs are facing wholly unreasonable rent levels, considering the Government restrictions and reduced trade.

The letter also calls on the Government to finally tackle the rent crisis facing many pubs, bars and restaurants. So far, the Government has taken no action to stop large businesses continuing to charge unreasonable levels of rent, indeed full rent throughout the entire crisis in some cases.

As the letter concludes, without further support, many publicans simply won’t get through the winter and that means a loss of jobs, livelihoods and the permanent loss of pubs and the fault will be the Government’s, not Covid-19.

The letter also calls on the Government to provide support for brewers and other suppliers to pubs, whose businesses are also being seriously affected by the decisions taken regarding pubs. As part of this, we urge that you drop the ill-considered and damaging proposals to reform Small Brewers Relief, which would be an inexcusable thing to do at a time like this.

Commenting, Paul Crossman, Chair of the Campaign for Pubs and licensee of 3 pubs in York said:

“The Government MUST reconsider the level of support they are providing for our pubs. The Government’s own statistics have shown how effective the measures that we willingly undertook have been in protecting our staff and customers, and yet we have been repeatedly hit with ever-more stringent restrictions that, while being been increasingly widely questioned, have now reduced trade for many to a completely unsustainable level.

“We run valuable and perfectly viable businesses that, under normal circumstances, contribute enormously to the economy, the Exchequer and the welfare of our communities. It would be terribly wrong for the Government to abandon us now, with inadequate support, no protection from property owners and no hope under these open-ended Government-imposed restrictions”.

Commenting, Greg Mulholland, Campaign Director of the Campaign for Pubs said:

“It is deeply disappointing that the Government brought in yet more restrictions, but without consideration of the way these will decimate trade in pubs already struggling with reduced levels of trade.

“Pubs in Tier 2 areas are dismayed, as they are now subject to an effective ban on socialising, which basically means than pubs cannot trade normally at all. Yet the Government is offering no support, which is extraordinary and unacceptable. We urge them to wake up to the reality of the situation and introduce a meaningful, tiered package of support for pubs, otherwise we will see many closures and many families losing their livelihoods”.

Dawn Hopkins, Vice-Chair of the Campaign for Pubs and licensee of the Rose, Norwich said:

“Britain’s publicans feel completely ignored and betrayed by the Government. Their restrictions are making many pubs unviable, yet other than the meagre grants for Tier 3 pubs, which won’t even cover ongoing costs, there is no support at all. This will close pubs, see many jobs lost and will push publicans and their families into hardship”.


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