The Campaign for Pubs has renewed its call for urgent financial help for the sector as the country goes into a new lockdown.

Campaign for Pubs
Top, left to right: campaign chair Paul Cross; vice-chair, Dawn Hopkins; and director, Greg Mulholland

The current level of grant support isn’t enough to cover ongoing costs, especially rent, never mind support publicans and their families, says the group, so urgent action is needed to avoid mass pub closures and hardship.

There also needs to be support for small brewers and other suppliers whose businesses are threatened due to pubs being closed.

Without urgent, adequate support, many pubs, including pubs that have survived for centuries and two world wars, will be lost, and many families reliant on pubs and hospitality face hardship and homelessness.

In yet another blow for pubs in England, the UK government has this time banned take-away of alcohol, while supermarkets and off-licences continue to be allowed to sell it without any restriction. Deliveries are allowed, but will not be economical for the vast majority of pubs.

Financial and emotional strain

Campaign director, Greg Mulholland, said: “Once again, pubs have been unfairly scapegoated with the ban on take-aways, and the Campaign for Pubs is calling for this to be reversed. It’s wrong for pubs to be prevented from operating as off-licences, whilst supermarkets continue to trade without any restrictions.”

Campaign chair, licensee Paul Cross, added: “The current grant support is woefully inadequate, even to cover basic fixed costs, which for some continues to include full property costs.

“For those pubs this is the most pressing existential threat, so the government must now act by replacing the current voluntary code on rents with mandatory measures to give publicans substantial backdated relief on property costs for businesses that once again simply cannot trade.”

Vice-chair Dawn Hopkins is concerned about the human impact of the measures. “The financial and emotional strain on publicans — and our suppliers including small brewers — is immense, and the support we have been given since the restrictive tier system and now this lockdown is substantially less than during the first lockdown, yet we still have bills to pay, our families to feed.”