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14th December 2020

Pubs and publicans facing Christmas crisis unless Government changes course

The Campaign for Pubs, the national grassroots campaign group representing pubs, publicans and pub-goers has written to the Government, calling for an urgent change of approach and policy, when it comes to pubs to avoid a Christmas crisis for tens of thousands of pubs and pub families.  

The Campaign have sent a powerful letter, on behalf of pubs, publicans and pub families, to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon. Alok Sharma MP laying out the stark situation facing pubs and publicans with restrictions and making clear that without urgent changes, that many pubs face closure and many families face hardship.

The letter explains how the situation for pubs and publicans is now gravely serious and that it’s clear that this is simply not being understood or appreciated within the Government. Successive policies have led to a widespread crisis for pub families just before Christmas.

Many of our nation’s pubs are at risk of closure and many pub families are facing real hardship through the loss of their livelihood and without some urgent changes to the Government’s approach and levels of support, the Government is condemning many pub families to having no Christmas at all. A worrying number are now facing the complete loss of their business and ongoing income, as well as the threat of bankruptcy and in some cases homelessness, especially where the family lives in the pub.

The letter is calling for 6 key urgent things needed to avoid a Christmas crisis for pubs and publicans in England:

  1. Announce now what the situation will be for pubs from 16th December
  2. Review all the current questionable rules
  3. Drop the substantial meal rule
  4. Urgently announce a meaningful and adequate package of support for pubs
  5. Supermarket funds repaid must be used to support pubs and hospitality
  6. Address issues and problems with the December Grants for wet-led pubs

The letter expresses the anger at the way pubs face restrictions that no other businesses are facing – with rules that mean pubs must either remain closed or be expected to operate in a way which is simply not viable. Once again, traditional ‘wet-led’ pubs have been singled out for especially harsh treatment as they are expected to change their entire business model under Tier 2 or remain closed. The feeling is growing that pubs have been unfairly scapegoated by the Government, and there is huge anger amongst pubs, publicans and their families who now feel victimised by the way their pubs and livelihoods have been threatened without credible evidence.

The anger and sense of betrayal has increased with pictures of huge crowds in shopping centres, stores, supermarkets and city and town centres up and down the country with no social distancing in place and, unlike pubs, no supervision.

The current grants are not remotely adequate even to cover costs, never mind making up for the devasting 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

The letter also calls on the Government to use the money returned by supermarkets, who have been allowed to open all the way through the crisis, to support pubs and the hospitality sector.

Paul Crossman, Chair of the Campaign for Pub and a licensee in York said:
“The Government either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about the desperate situation facing pubs and the tens of thousands of people who rely on them for an income. They need to urgently change course to avoid a Christmas crisis for pubs, publicans and their families.

Pubs and hospitality are now subject to uniquely harsh treatment under the Government’s new winter restrictions, despite the fact that there is no meaningful evidence to justify the new measures. Our traditional community pubs have been especially hard hit by the absurd Tier 2 requirement for all pubs to provide a “substantial meal”, which does nothing to make pubs safer but has instead forced thousands more pubs into unwanted closure, at unnecessary cost to the state.

“The Government’s own evidence showed that pubs could already operate in a safe way by adhering to the previous, far more reasonable requirement to operate the rule of six in a responsible fashion. If the Government continues to insist on targeting our sector in this unfair way, that is so damaging to our businesses and communities, then they must accept their duty to protect jobs and livelihoods by properly compensating our pubs and our suppliers. The current level of support is woefully inadequate and will lead to business failure and great hardship”.

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

“Publicans up and down the country are feeling truly victimised by this Government – they have abided by the rules, changed how they do business, followed ever increasing demands put on them and spent thousands of pounds on adapting their businesses so that they can trade safely.  Instead of being applauded for their efforts they are now facing severe hardship over the Christmas period, into the New Year and beyond, when there is no evidence, science or statistics to show that pubs are the cause of the problems in this pandemic.

“The support offered to publicans is totally inadequate, and unless this Government takes seriously the effect their restrictions are having on the pub industry – and their suppliers including small breweries and food producers – then we will be facing a crisis that will see even more pubs closed for good, publicans and their families facing real hardship, and our customers losing their community hubs. Publicans, their suppliers & their customers need the Government to act now, do the right thing and save the Great British Pub”.


Notes to editors

1. The Campaign for Pubs exists to provide a real voice for pubs, bringing together publicans, customers and brewers and all who value our pub culture. The Campaign for Pubs has been formed precisely due to the lack of a real voice for pubs and publicans and to campaign for the needs of pubs and publicans, not the large property companies, big brewers and pub chains.  The Campaign for Pubs campaigns for a better, freer and fairer, more sustainable pub sector as laid out in the mission statement.

2. The Campaign for Pubs website is, Twitter and Facebook are @campaignforpubs

3. Campaign for Pubs costs £25 a year to join, or £40 for a couple and members become part of a national network of those who care about pubs and their future.

4. The Campaign for Pubs is a member organisation of the British Pub Confederation (the Confederation of independent organisations representing pubs and pub campaigners) and the Campaign for Pubs will administer and support the ongoing work of the Confederation to further strengthen representation for pubs and publicans.

Press release from Campaign for Pubs

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