Calls to 'bring back' Minister for Pubs to help save 'beating heart of communities' amid calls for tax rebates

29 September 2023, 11:19

According to polling undertaken by YouGov for the report, 75 percent of people felt the impact of pubs to community life to be positive
According to polling undertaken by YouGov for the report, 75 percent of people felt the impact of pubs to community life to be positive. Picture: Alamy
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A new report is demanding the revival of a Minister for Pubs position in the government, as the pub industry faces mounting pressures from inflation and closures.

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Local pubs provide vital social and economic benefits to communities across Britain, but more government assistance is needed to ensure their survival, a new report argues.

The report from think-tank Localis says pubs serve as hubs for social interaction, help combat loneliness, and make significant contributions to local economies. It urges the government to provide tax rebates and other aid to struggling pubs.

According to the report, pubs support 936,000 jobs nationwide, generate £28 billion in economic activity, and contribute £15 billion in tax revenue annually.

Pollsters also found that among social uses of pubs in the last three months, more than half of the population (51%) had met a friend in one, while nearly two-in-five (37%) of people had visited the pub to meet up with family
Pollsters also found that among social uses of pubs in the last three months, more than half of the population (51%) had met a friend in one, while nearly two-in-five (37%) of people had visited the pub to meet up with family. Picture: LBC

Polling cited in the report found 75% of people see pubs as having a positive community impact, with 81% agreeing they help bring people together.

A Minister for Pubs could lead a task force to develop long-term strategy for aiding pubs with taxes, regulation and an emergency fund to assist with soaring energy bills, the report says.

The post existed in the past but was scrapped in 2007. Now, with pubs battling inflation and other economic headwinds, the report insists the role deserves a comeback to provide vital government assistance.

It also recommends business rates rebates for pubs providing services like food banks or social spaces for vulnerable people.

Read more: Last orders for 11 more Wetherspoons pubs after 33 close already this year - is your local next?

Read more: 'Absolutely outrageous. Boycott these venues': Angry backlash after Stonegate pubs announce ‘dynamic pricing’

The report said across Britain, pubs have consistently played a pivotal role in knitting communities together and promoting social cohesion.
The report said across Britain, pubs have consistently played a pivotal role in knitting communities together and promoting social cohesion. Picture: Alamy

With closures rising, the report warns of "tangible and intangible voids" left when pubs shut down. It argues they play "multifaceted roles in local daily life" and are "integral to British social cohesion."

Emma McClarkin of the British Beer and Pub Association said pubs provide "social and economic value," calling them "the beating heart of many communities."

The report features case studies of pubs supporting local communities, such as The Lamb Inn in Swadlincote offering free meals and a warm space for people in need.

Owner Becky Barnett said they want to keep providing this service but face challenges from rising costs.

She said: “We support our local community in a number of ways, including offering free food and drinks to people on Wednesday mornings. People can come into the pub, have a free hot meal, and in winter, sit by our log fire in comfy chairs, no questions asked.

“When times are tough, we want to be a place where people can come for help and local people have been incredibly grateful of us opening our doors at no cost. At the same time, we also face challenges with high energy bills and other rising costs so it’s a scary time for our business as well, we want to continue to provide a non-judgemental warm space for people but we’re facing our own difficulties as well.”

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