RSN backs calls for more support for village pubs

A new report from the independent, not-for-profit think tank, Localis reveals the true social and economic value pubs bring to communities across England. 

Inn-valuable has looked at both first-hand evidence and a range of literature to make the case for supporting the pub trade in Britain as a matter of sound social, economic and political rationale.

The report says that:

“in rural areas, pubs often act as de facto village halls, the locus of village life….Asking British adults if pubs have a positive or negative effect in a community, 75 percent felt the impact is positive. When asked if pubs are important in bringing people together, 81 percent of British adults said that they are.”

The key themes which were highlighted amongst all the case studies were:

  • Combatting isolation
  • Supporting local causes
  • Reflecting local culture
  • Bringing local business together
  • Supporting communities through generations

Furthermore, the report highlights that the impact of pubs in strictly economic terms is also considerable. It says:

“in addition to the direct impacts of employment from pubs to the breweries that support them, there are indirect effects amassed along the supply chain as well as induced effects caused by the expenditure of the wages paid across the beer and pub sector. All this activity across the economy totals, through direct and indirect impacts, to a Gross Value Added of around £26bn.”

It goes onto say that pubs are:

“disproportionately economically important in deprived areas as employers and local businesses. This is in addition to the increased importance of pubs as social infrastructure in deprived areas, where a lack of social capital assets is also linked to poorer economic outcomes.”

RSN Chief Executive, Kerry Booth, supported the research. She said:

“The pub has always been regarded by many people as the centre of village life.  During the pandemic, across the UK, we saw village pubs rise to the challenge and morph into a local shop, a delivery service and, in some cases, even a vaccination centre.

“In my village, our pub closed its doors before Christmas last year.  It is true to say that you don’t know what you’ve got until it has gone.  We all felt its loss.  Thankfully, for our community, someone has stepped in and rescued it and that gap has once again been filled.

“Our pub is a focal place for us all to meet and catch up on the village news.  A place where we can make sure our elderly neighbours are ok and that new parents aren’t isolated.  Our local cricket team has somewhere to meet post-match to celebrate their success (or commiserate a loss) and groups like the PTA can once again find a venue to meet.

“We all now realise how incredibly lucky we are to have our pub.  It sounds like a cliché but it is the heart of the village.”

The report makes 4 recommendations which aim to secure the future of British pubs:

  • A cross-government taskforce on the future of the British pub. A long-term strategy is needed to determine a sustainable tax and regulatory framework and measures that can help the sector thrive in the coming decades and ensure that its pivotal role in society is not lost.
  • Emergency fund for energy bill support. Government should establish a fund to provide energy bill support for pubs in deprived areas, in a manner similar to the ‘social tariff’ on household energy bills argued for by organisations such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. More broadly, government must ensure all pubs have access to fair and reasonable energy contracts.
  • Business rates rebates for diversifying pubs. Government should 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. Pub is The Hub estimate that there is potential for 1,000 pubs to diversify over three years, with required funding as little as £4,000 per pub. Financial support could be given to Pub is The Hub to quickly fund these grants.
  • A new, revamped Minister for Pubs role with cross-departmental remit. The role of Minister for Pubs, last prominently occupied in 2017, should be reinstated as a Minister of State and given a brief to work across departments to support the pub trade.

Read the full report on the Localis website here.


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