Fresh calls have been made for the reinstatement of minister for pubs role in the UK, amid a challenging period for the sector as it continues to face inflationary headwinds and rising closures.
It comes as part of a new report by think tank Localise – commissioned by the British Beer and Hospitality Association (BPPA) – which recommends the government elect a specific figure to help with tax and regulation, alongside an emergency fund for energy bill support.
The UK’s first minister for pubs was elected in 2010 and the position ran until 2017, when Conservative MP Jake Berry headed the role. There is currently a minister for hospitality, Kevin Hollinrake, who also deals with restaurants, cafes and the wider sector.
According to the report, the UK’s pub sector supports 936,000 jobs, generates £28bn in GVA to the economy and delivers £15bn in tax revenues to the exchequer annually.
However, pubs have come under increasing pressure in the last year, largely due to soaring energy costs, labour shortages and economic uncertainty.
A recent study by Altus Group showed the number of pubs being demolished or converted for other uses across England and Wales surged by 50 per cent over the latest quarter.
This is despite some 75 percent of people regarding the pubs in community life to be positive, Localise said.
Among other recommendations, the report also called for the government to fund local authorities to provide partial business rebates for pubs which diversify to take on socially valuable roles, such as those “providing warm spaces or food banks”.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “Pubs provide solace to people in tough times and a place to celebrate in others and to lose them would have a serious impact on people’s lives.”
“With closures continuing to rise and pubs under threat from further duty and business rates cost hikes we hope the government will seriously consider the proposals put forward by this report so the foundations can be laid to help pubs continue to do this brilliant work in their communities long into the future.”
City A.M has contacted the government for comment.