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7th November 2023

72 years and 30,000 thousand fewer pubs since the last King’s Speech, the BBPA calls for further support to protect this great British cultural institution

As we look ahead to the first King’s Speech in 72 years, the tumultuous domestic landscape of 1951 echoes some of the same societal challenges we face today.

Now, like in 1951, we are in an era of national restoration and renewal, George VI knew this and opened the Festival of Britain. A statement of faith in the rebuilding and bettering of Britain that represented a concerted effort by government, business and the public to return stronger than before.

King Charles has long been a supporter of our nation’s pubs, writing only last year of the serious challenges that pubs have faced as a result of the pandemic and the need for pubs to be supported by the public in 2022’s Good Beer Guide.

The Britain of 1951 is a different world. The pub then was more central to everyone’s life compared to the multiple leisure and hospitality options that people have today. But British life still happens in the pub. Since 1951, when there was around 75,000 pubs, there has been a 39% drop in the number.

But more recently, the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have put a real strain on communities and the pubs at the heart of them. In the last ten years there has been a 15% drop in pub numbers with hundreds of pubs closing every year. By the time the King celebrates his 10th anniversary on the throne, we could see on current projections another 18% plummet by 2033.

The British public know how central a role they play with one of our latest reports, Inn-Valuable: Unlocking the socio-economic potential of our nation’s pubs1, finding:

  • 81% of people say pubs are important in bringing people together
  • 3 in 4 people feel the pub has a positive effect on their community
  • 68% of British adults say the pub helps combat loneliness

It is in this context that the BBPA is calling for the Government to take immediate action to support pubs by extending small business rate relief, stopping pubs from being hit with a £250 million increased business rate bill this April, and ruling out any further increases in beer duty, so pubs can continue to support their local community and fuel the national economy for decades to come.

Kevin Georgel, Chief Executive of St Austell Brewery, where King Charles visited in 2019, said:

“We were honoured to have His Majesty King Charles III – when he was HRH the Prince of Wales – visit St Austell Brewery in 2019. He met with our brewers, employees from across the business, publicans, suppliers, and Cornish barley farmers.  His Majesty clearly has a great passion for our sector and recognises the important part that pubs play in communities across the UK.

“Our business was founded in 1851. 172 years on, our industry continues to play a vital role, both to local communities and in growing the economy. This King’s Speech is a prime opportunity for the Government to acknowledge this and provide meaningful support for pubs and breweries, which will allow our sector to continue playing this role in the decades to come.”

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said:

“Despite the decline in their numbers since the last King’s Speech, pubs remain right at the heart of communities across the UK, often acting as the only remaining hub for groups or individuals of any creed, any background looking to come together, bond and relax.

“The Government has a golden opportunity with this King’s Speech to give a vital affirmation of the role of those pubs in local communities and economies by providing further investment to ensure the enduring survival and success of this great British institution.”

Michael Cole, former BBC Royal Correspondent told the BBPA:

“Visiting pubs has always been a part not only of royal duty but of royal pleasure; the late Queen even included Coronation Street’s Rovers and Albert Square’s Queen Vic in her engagements, though fictional, are probably two of the country’s most famous pubs. The King, as Prince of Wales, and his late father, often took guests and gamekeepers for nourishing food and tankards of ale in Sandringham’s locals. Many pubs on the wayside of the estate have benefitted from royal patronage from time to time.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  1. A full copy of our report with Localis can be found here: https://www.localis.org.uk/research/inn-valuable/

CEO of the BBPA Emma McClarkin is available for broadcast, print and digital comment on the role of pubs in society and our calls for support from the Government.


For any further information or media requests please contact, Laurence Gill at lgill@beerandpub.com, call 02076279199 or Whatsapp +44 7429 4455 14.

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