As a member of the APPG on Pubs, I share your concerns about the financial sustainability of pubs. I agree that pubs are at the heart of our local communities and are vital social and community hubs for so many people. They make an important contribution to the UK economy and support jobs in every town and city. I know that 30 million adults (including me) visit the pub every month. COVID-19 has had a terrible effect on this part of the economy, leaving many pubs facing economic devastation.
The government’s announced in February that pubs would be able to reopen their gardens from the 12th April and inside seating from the 17h May – subject to conditions – and confirmed that the 10pm curfew and requirement to provide a ‘substantial meal’ will be scrapped.
The Budget confirmed that the government would be extending the freeze on beer duty, extending the business rates holiday, and increasing the business rates discount for small pubs. While this is a positive step, many pubs need further economic support to help them to recover from the pandemic.
Unite have proposed a sector-specific Job Retention Scheme for the hospitality industry, suggesting that when businesses continue to operate, companies must pursue job sharing arrangements to ensure that all workers can be retained, with full furlough provided where workers are clinically vulnerable. Unite and the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) also call on the Government to establish adequate sick pay and routine tests for hospitality workers, and a commission to establish plans to retrain workers who lose their jobs to ensure they do not face long-term unemployment.
Since my election, I have consistently called for targeted economic support for key sectors such as hospitality. Last month, I asked the Minister of State for Business Energy and Industrial strategy about working with these unions and hospitality businesses to create a hospitality sector recovery strategy, extending the job retention scheme, and introducing rapid testing for hospitality staff.
In November 2020, I also asked the government to provide time for a debate on the future of our pubs. Furthermore, in December 2020 I stated that the government should listen to CAMRA’s Save our Pubs campaign and increase long-term support for pubs.
I have also stayed in contact with local pubs and continued to call for greater support for hospitality.
I can assure you that I will continue standing up for pubs and calling for the targeted support they need at this time of crisis and beyond.