"Going to the pub is one of our great national pastimes. They are a treasured part of communities on every corner of our country. The oldest pub in the UK dates back to 793AD, an estimated one in four couples report first meeting in the pub, and they were deemed so important as to be allowed to stay open during air raids in the Second World War.
"As well as their historical and cultural significance, pubs and bars also contribute vastly to our economy, including in Edgbaston where they support 500 jobs. Before the onset of the pandemic, the pub trade supported 900,000 jobs, generating £23 billion in economic value and providing £13 billion in tax receipts. However, this vital source of economic activity and government revenue risks being permanently diminished if the Government does not urgently take steps to support them.
"Even prior to the pandemic, pubs were not thriving under this Government, with nearly 1 in 7 pubs ceasing to trade between 2011 and 2018. However the pandemic has evidently hit this sector extremely hard. Estimates suggest 5% of pubs (over 2,500) closed for good in 2020, compared to 994 in the previous year. The restrictions over Christmas and New Year – the most important and profitable trading period for pubs, when they would usually make 25% of their annual profits – cost an estimated £3.8 billion in lost income.
"How are these otherwise financially sound businesses meant to account for such a shortfall? As welcome as the one-off £1,000 grant to pubs in December was, it does not come to close to compensating for these losses. The average weekly profit of a wet pub in a rural area is twice that, while the average weekly profit of a wet pub in an urban constituency is more than five times the wet pubs grant. This policy short-changes cities like Birmingham, which is already suffering one of the worst unemployment rates in the country."
"Last summer, the Prime Minister told people that it was their ‘patriotic duty’ to go to the pub. I suggest that it’s now the Government’s patriotic duty to ensure their survival."