The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pubs (APPG) has launched a ground-breaking Raising the Bar report, aiming to measure the effect of the pandemic on pubs and identify prospects to create a thriving pub sector.
The inquiry received more than 15,000 responses from publicans, consumers, industry groups and academics about how the industry has been affected by Covid and associated lockdown period
- Action on the growing debt crisis, with rent debt and Bounce Back Loan repayments seen as barriers to success throughout the trade.
- Refinement of Pubs Code legislation to ensure a fairer deal for tied tenants in England and Wales, and additional resources for the office of the Pubs Code Adjudicator.
- Direct investment into the sector, including building on existing training schemes, and improving access to digital services for pubs.
While the full impact of the pandemic is still not clear, the report said that early indications are that five per cent of pub businesses (2,500) closed in 2020 alone, and almost 400 have been lost or redeveloped, averaging at six per week.
The report also raised concerns that many pub owners have taken on high levels of debt during the pandemic, with widespread concern about the repayment of the Government’s Bounce Back Loans.
The report said: “Bounce Back Loans were a key concern for licensees, many of whom had expected to return to normal trading levels far sooner than has been possible.
“Ongoing debt could see the on-trade stifled in both the long and short term and addressing this swiftly will create far greater returns in investment, innovation, employment, and tax revenues.”
The report recommends that the existing ‘pay as you grow’ scheme for Bounce Back Loans is revised by the Government to be more reflective of current pub incomes.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Pubs APPG chair, Charlotte Nichols, said: “The Pubs APPG Inquiry received thousands of responses showing the passion, creativity, commitment, and resilience of licensees, pub staff, consumers, and industry representatives.
“With support from government, pubs are uniquely positioned to drive economic recovery from the pandemic, while continuing to play a key role in fighting loneliness and encouraging community cohesion.
“However, it’s clear that policymakers must take action to address the roadblocks to recovery identified in the Raising the Bar report, and I look forward to working with colleagues in Parliament to ensure pubs receive the support they need.”
Chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale, Nik Antona, said: “This is a crucial moment for pubs, and I hope government will see this report as an opportunity to raise the bar. Without legislative reform and greater investment in the trade, thousands of pubs across the country face an uncertain future.
“We need action from the government to keep these vital businesses, and local communities they serve, thriving.”