Campaign for Pubs

Publicans anger as Chancellor ignores the existential threat to pubs from the cost-of-living crisis offering no new help at all in the Spring Statement

The Campaign for Pubs has expressed dismay at the lack of any new measures to support pubs and publicans facing the ‘existential threat’ of the cost-of-living crisis following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Campaign had written to the Chancellor and called on the Government to understand the serious threat to pubs facing a perfect storm of dramatically rising costs and at the same time, many customers having to reduce their own spending.

Costs for pubs, especially energy and product costs continue to rise very significantly. If no action is taken to address the spiralling energy bills, many otherwise profitable pubs will find that these, on top of ongoing debt repayments, they simply cannot stay afloat. Costs for brewers and other producers are also increasing.

At the same time, consumers are facing rising prices and reduced disposable income, which means that some will have to reduce expenditure on non-essential items, including going to the pub. This is exacerbated by the fact that pubs will have to pass on at least some of the rising costs faced by brewers and other suppliers, making visits even less affordable to those on lower and middle incomes.

Yet not only did the Chancellor fail to announce any vital new support for pubs facing this double whammy, but he failed even to stop the forthcoming hike in VAT back to 20% on meals, soft drinks and overnight accommodation, meaning costs for pubs will increase even further.   

The only announcement relevant to pubs is a £1000 increase in National Insurance allowance, but without proper support for pubs as businesses, there will be fewer jobs with many pubs having to lay staff off in a bid to survive, so publicans have pointed out that this announcement will not help at all.

Without further support to get through the crisis, including tackling the spiralling energy costs facing pubs, many publicans will struggle to get through the next 12 months, which would render the support given through the pandemic meaningless, showing a lack of joined-up thinking by the Treasury, as well as ignoring the potential loss to many communities of their precious local pubs.

Paul Crossman, Chair of the Campaign for Pubs and a publican in York said:

“Spiralling costs and the impending cost of living crisis present a new existential threat to pubs. Businesses everywhere were looking to the Chancellor today for targeted support to keep afloat and keep people in jobs.

“Our precious pubs are more than just businesses, they are also a vital community service. They already had it hard and it only looks set to get harder with nothing of substance in today’s Spring Statement”.

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

“It is deeply disappointing to see no help for pubs in the Spring Statement whatsoever and very little help to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, so our   customers have even less to spend.

“What hope do our publicans and pubs have when our Govt stick their fingers in their ears and ignore our pleas for targeted and sensible measures to help?”

Lee Worsley, licensee member of the Campaign for Pubs said:

“Furlough and all the additional support given to small businesses will be meaningless without the Chancellor acting now to keep the wheels turning.

“If the wheels don’t turn jobs will be lost in sectors that are being hit hard, like hospitality and leisure that were just starting to bounce back, but have been hit by a Tsunami of cost increases and hit twice with VAT and business rates rising. As far as publicans are concerned, the Chancellor is asleep at the wheel!”