The power of pubs

This report from UK think tank Localis looks at protecting social infrastructure and laying the groundwork for levelling up.

Writing in 1912, Hilaire Belloc warned: “change your hearts or you will lose your inns and you will deserve to have lost them”. Should such a calamity unfold, Belloc added that “you will have lost the last of England”. The Power of Pubs looks at the attempts made in 2020 by the UK government to avert this tragic scenario and the requirements for 2021 and beyond to shore up a national institution and place pubs at the centre of ‘levelling up’ the nation. As one of the biggest contributors to the UK economy, the sector has a vital role to play in the recovery and levelling up journey of the country as well as in maintaining community cohesion and social resilience well beyond the pandemic. Pubs support 884,860 jobs across the UK, £12.1bn of wages, and £23.4bn of GVA across the country. They are a key part of the foundational economy in our cities and towns. Aside from the economic impact of the lockdown on pubs, their closure has had a wider impact on community cohesion up and down the country. Pubs form a vital part of social infrastructure in place and are anchors that tie the community together. This is particularly true for rural towns and villages. The report indicates the need for policy recommendations for the short, medium and longer term. In the short-term, it is vital that the roadmap to reopening is not allowed to slip back further for pubs and that the commitment to end all trading restrictions by June 21st must be delivered to return pubs to viable trading. Following reopening, some extra, medium-term measures may be needed to help place the pub sector at the foundations of a strong recovery, support local economies and shore up community resilience. For example, extra support may be required in some parts of the country to keep the sector afloat and in place, ensuring that the pub sector can be central to the levelling up mission and the restoration of high streets. Looking ahead to the longer-term, as we move into the recovery phase, central government should support the pub sector through reducing the tax burden on the sector to aid this recovery and build resilience.

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