Campaign for Pubs

UK Government is treating pubs and publicans disgracefully and without urgent and meaningful support, will be responsible for the closure of thousands of pubs

The Campaign for Pubs, the national grassroots campaign group representing pubs, publicans and pub-goers has slammed the UK Government today following the announcement that thousands more pubs will be forced to close and many others will be prevented from reopening, due to the Government making minimal changes to the Tier System, going back on what it promised councils, businesses and people in England.

Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire, parts of Surrey, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire and are being forcibly closed by being plunged into Tier 3, as London already has whilst the whole of the North of England and the Midlands and some other areas remain in the same tiers, with thousands of pubs in Tier 3 now unable open at all in December. The only areas that have moved down are Bristol and North Somerset, going Tier 3 to Tier 2, where pubs can only open without household mixing and with the absurd ‘substantial meal’ rule and Herefordshire which is moving from Tier 2 into Tier 1. This decision has been taken despite the reality of the figures and represents a clear betrayal of the promise to move areas down on 16th December, if figures dropped.

Publicans affected are expressing anger and dismay at the catastrophic impact this has on their pubs, businesses and livelihoods and many are saying they may never be able to open again, without urgent and adequate support from the Government. The current grants are not remotely adequate even to cover costs, never mind making up for the devastating loss of normal December trade. The recently announced one-off Christmas “bonus” grant of £1000 for substantially wet-led pubs, this amounts to just £32.26 a day.  That is basically the cost of a round of drinks and is frankly a derisory amount to compensate for lost extra trade during the busiest month of the year, and a month that is vital for pubs getting through the difficult months of January and February.

The level of support for pubs in England is wholly inadequate, with even closed pubs still having to meet significant fixed costs, especially in the case of many thousands of pubs that are burdened with huge rent debts from unsympathetic pubcos and property owners. The real consequence of this is that thousands of pubs and publicans are simply getting into more and more debt each week, this is not sustainable and doesn’t seem to be understood by the Government.

The Campaign for Pubs are supporting the #SavePubsNOW petition, started by Campaign Director Greg Mulholland which now has over ten thousand signatures backing an urgent support package for pubs

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

“Today’s announcement, made a week before Christmas Eve, is devastating blow to tens of thousands of publicans and their families. It’s absolutely disgraceful the way pubs & publicans are being treated. The Government has strung people along with the prospect of opening for Christmas, then changed the goalposts yet again & at the same time, closed thousands of other pubs a week before Christmas.

“The Government either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care that their failing strategy is destroying livelihoods & consigning many pubs to history. They must now come up with an urgent and meaningful package of support or they, not Covid, will be responsible for the loss of thousand of pubs and for hardship faced by many families”.

Paul Crossman, Chair of the Campaign for Pub and a licensee in York said:

“Today’s announcement that millions more people will see themselves placed into higher tiers will come as a further hammer blow to pubs and other hospitality businesses that are already on their knees. Stress levels within the sector have reached intolerable levels with many families fearing for their livelihoods and their futures as their ability to trade this Christmas has been wiped out.

“There is much evidence that pubs and hospitality should be treated as part of the solution to the pandemic, but instead the Government continues to target community pubs in particular with uniquely tough measures, and to portray them as a risk and a problem. This deliberate policy choice carries with it a responsibility to properly compensate those businesses that have been closed or restricted.

“Current levels of support fall well short of what is needed to cover basic costs for most pubs, meaning that it is unlikely that those businesses will survive much longer. The potential fallout will include mass unemployment, widespread hardship, loss of community facilities and a huge loss of revenue for the Exchequer. It is a nonsensical false economy for the Government to scrimp on support at this stage as we approach the time when these viable and hugely valuable businesses should be able move back towards making a full contribution to our culture and economy”.