Today, I have called upon the Government to establish a survival and recovery plan for the pub and brewing sector, and for the 900,000 jobs it supports and £23bn in economic value it provides.
In a letter to the newly-appointed Business Secretary, copy below, I have set out the very clear concerns from publicans, pub businesses, brewers, and industry representatives that - without a roadmap to recovery - many pubs will simply not re-open after we come out of the pandemic and crucial local jobs will disappear for good.
It is vitally important that pubs and the jobs they support throughout the country are allowed to reopen in line with other similar parts of the economy as soon as the Government has hit its laudable target of vaccinating the most vulnerable. There can simply be no justification for reopening non-essential retail, or indeed other hospitality outlets, ahead of pubs.
It is also important that we look again at the restrictions placed upon pubs before they are allowed to reopen. They must be allowed to reopen as fully as possible when the time comes. That means for example removing the requirement of a substantial meal if alcohol is being consumed, and of course doing away with the ineffective (in some cases counterproductive) policy of curfews.
As well as getting pubs reopened, and therefore giving the brewers that supply them an important route to market, I have asked Ministers what wider support package can be put together to enable them to trade as strongly as possible. As it stands, business rates reliefs, VAT cuts and the furlough scheme all come to an end at the precise moment we hope to be able to reopen the economy fully. Consideration should be given to extending these schemes, as well as cutting beer duty, to give pubs and brewers the kick start they need in 2021 after such a terrible 2020.
I have been in close contact with our fantastic pubs and breweries in Carshalton and Wallington throughout the pandemic, and I will continue to do everything I can to support them and the wider industry.
If you have any thoughts or comments, please do get in touch.