Save our Pub

I am acutely aware that pubs have faced considerable challenges during the coronavirus pandemic, and I am therefore encouraged that they have been provided with significant financial support and relief. With the lifting of all legal restrictions on social contact, it is very welcome that pubs will be able to operate at full capacity once again. Given the closures and disruptions of the last year, the Government has rightly provided significant support for hospitality businesses. The Budget laid out further financial support and relief for pubs. It extended the business rates holiday for a further three months to the end of June 2021, with 66 per cent business rates relief in place until 31 March 2022. Restart Grants have also been made available worth up to £18,000 for hospitality, leisure, accommodation, personal care and gym businesses. The reduced VAT rate is being continued at 5 per cent until 30 September for hospitality, after which it will be at 12.5 per cent until 31 March 2022. Alcohol duty is being frozen for 2021-22 as well to support pubs. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until September to give people and businesses across the whole United Kingdom the certainty they need. These measures come on top of the previous grants, reliefs and loans made available since the start of the pandemic. For example, as we entered a national lockdown in January, the Chancellor unveiled further economic support for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, including pubs, in light of the restrictions. New one-off top-up grants were announced, worth up to £9,000 per property, to help businesses through to the spring. I am also pleased that the Government announced that pavement licences will be extended, making it easier and cheaper for pubs, restaurants and cafes to continue to make outdoor dining a reality with seating, tables and street stalls to serve food and drinks. There is also an intention to make them permanent. On top of this, pubs will be given more flexibility through a 12-month extension of temporary permissions for the off-sale of alcohol. I understand that pubs were subject to debilitating restrictions for a long time, and I hear requests for a longer-term sector-specific package of support. That is why I am assured that the Government has provided unprecedented levels of support throughout the pandemic and, building on this, has published long-term strategies to help the hospitality sector and our high streets to recover with more resilience.] Evidence continues to be collected on the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector and I am glad that the Government’s support is helping pubs, which are the lifeblood of our communities, to recover and build back better.