Failure to support the nation’s pubs return from lockdown risks imperilling the government’s levelling up agenda for economic and social renewal, the think-tank Localis has warned today.
In a report issued today entitled ‘The Power of Pubs – protecting social infrastructure and laying the groundwork for levelling up’ Localis argued it was vital that the lockdown roadmap is not allowed to slip back further for pubs, and that the commitment to end all trading restrictions by 21 June must be delivered to return all pubs to viable trading.
Without such assurances and medium-term support to help place the pub sector at the foundations of a strong recovery, the authors warned local economies and community resilience in left-behind parts of the country – including ‘blue wall’ former industrial heartlands, rural and coastal areas – would be particularly hit.
Among key recommendations, the report authors urged central government to further reduce the tax burden on the pub sector to aid the recovery and called for an extension to the Business and Planning Act 2020.
Local councils should be directed to help pubs by issuing licence fee refunds – paid for by the Treasury – for the six months to June 2021, through business support grants, the study advised. Additionally, where premises have been put to new community purposes during the pandemic, councils should offer a diversification grant to pubs looking to retain or expand the services they provided during lockdown.
Localis chief executive, Jonathan Werran, said: “The case for treating Britain’s pubs with fair consideration in exiting lockdown measures is, at core, as simple as it is heartfelt. Where there’s a pub, there’s a community.
“As one of the biggest contributors to the UK economy, the sector has a vital role to play in the recovery and levelling up journey of the country as well as in maintaining community cohesion and social resilience well beyond the pandemic.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive, British Beer and Pub Association, said: “The Pandemic has fractured our communities economic environment and frayed our social ties.
“The pub is a powerful embodiment and symbol of both, woven into the fabric of our society and it is one we need to support and strengthen as we rebuild our trade as well as reconnect our communities.”
Notes to Editors:
- An advance embargoed copy of the report ‘The Power of Pubs – protecting social infrastructure and laying the groundwork for levelling up’ is available for download [click here]
Localis is an independent think-tank dedicated to issues related to politics, public service reform and localism. We carry out innovative research, hold events and facilitate an ever growing network of members to stimulate and challenge the current orthodoxy of the governance of the UK.
About British Beer and Pub Association
The British Beer & Pub Association is the leading body representing Britain’s brewers and pub companies. The Association is more than a century old and was originally founded as the Brewers’ Society in 1904. Our members account for some 90 per cent of beer brewed in Britain today, and own around 20,000 of the nation’s pubs.
- Key report recommendations
The research undertaken for this report indicates the need for policy recommendations, for the short, medium and longer term.
In the short-term:
- it is vital that the roadmap is not allowed to slip back further for pubs, and that the commitment to end all trading restrictions by June 21st must be delivered to return pubs to viable trading.
- To support pubs through the roadmap and into reopening, the Business and Planning Act 2020 should be extended to facilitate greater use of outdoor space and takeaway services and the late-night levy suspended.
- Local government should issue licence fee refunds for the six months to June 2021, funded by central government.
Following reopening, some extra, medium-term measures may be needed to help place the pub sector at the foundations of a strong recovery, support local economies and shore up community resilience.
Government should consider:
- In some areas, extra support is required to keep the sector afloat and in place, ensuring that the pub sector can be central to the levelling up mission and the restoration of high streets.
- In particularly at-risk areas, such as those ‘left-behind places’ like coastal towns or recipients of the Shared Prosperity Fund, top-up grants should be issued to the hospitality sector in 2022 to shore-up resilience and help raise the baseline of the industry in place.
- Where pubs have been utilised for new community purposes during the pandemic, a diversification grant to pubs looking to retain or expand the services they provided during lockdown.
Looking ahead to the longer-term, as we move into the recovery phase, central government should support the pub sector through reducing the tax burden on the sector to aid this recovery and build resilience.
Government should consider:
- Working with the sector to deliver a long-term and sustainable solution to business rates reform beyond the end of the rates holiday period.
- Likewise, the impact of temporary VAT cut for hospitality should be reviewed during this year with a view to a permanent reduced rate for all food and drink sales in pubs
- There must be commitment to a further reduction in beer duty following the duty freeze. This would help pubs and breweries in the long term, while at the same time generating the income required to lower the national debt accrued over the lockdown period and help in delivering levelling up.
Press release from BBPA on behalf of Localis
Jonathan Werran, chief executive, Localis
(Telephone) 0870 448 1530 / (Mobile) 07967 100328 / (Email) firstname.lastname@example.org