PUBS in York face 'real catastrophe' and need urgent support to avoid mass closures and hardship, says a York landlord as the nation heads into a third lockdown.

Paul Crossman, a licensee in York, chairs the national grassroots Campaign for Pubs group, which is urging the Government to announce financial packages for pubs, publicans and their families.

As lockdown starts, the Campaign for Pubs, which represents pubs, publicans and pub-goers, highlights that pubs have already lost trade for many months in 2020, including the all-important December trade in many areas.

Many publicans are already in considerable debt and some pubs have already closed.

Paul, who is licensee of The Swan, The Slip Inn and Volunteer Arms in York, said: “As we enter a third national lockdown for England and Scotland, the situation for thousands of pubs across the UK now looks truly dire.

"If the Government does not immediately announce a much-strengthened package of financial grant support for pubs and their suppliers, then the industry faces real catastrophe.

"Communities across the nation will face the prospect of losing their beloved social hubs, and the families that run them will be facing severe and long-lasting hardship.

“The current grant support is woefully inadequate even to cover basic fixed costs, which for some continues to include full property costs.

"For those pubs this is the most pressing existential threat, so the Government must now act by replacing the current voluntary Code on rents with mandatory measures to give publicans substantial backdated relief on property costs for businesses that once again simply cannot trade.

"They must also urgently provide income support for the great many publicans currently excluded from eligibility for whatever reason."

Yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon announced a lockdown for Scotland and Boris Johnson announced a full lockdown for England. Pubs in both Wales and Northern Ireland are also currently closed.

The campaign group says the current level of grant support isn't enough to cover ongoing costs, especially rent.

There also needs to be support for small brewers and other suppliers whose businesses are threatened due to pubs being closed.

Without urgent, adequate support, many pubs, including pubs that have survived for centuries and two world wars, will be lost – and many families reliant on pubs and hospitality face hardship and homelessness.

The campaign group is calling for a package of support to save pubs and stop families losing their homes including:

  •  Closure grants increased to at least £1000 a week to actually cover costs, avoid business failure and prevent hardship.
  • A statutory rent code including the right to a rent review, to stop unreasonable rents that don't reflect trading conditions & a presumption of no commercial rent during forced closures.
  • A business rates holiday in 2021/22
  • VAT of 5% on all pub/hospitality sales, including on all drinks, to support ALL pubs (not just places that sell food)

A tailored package of support, including business rates relief for small brewers and other suppliers, whose businesses are threatened by pubs being closed.

In another blow for pubs in England, the Government has this time banned takeaway of alcohol – whilst supermarkets and off-licences continue to be allowed to sell alcohol without any restriction.

Deliveries are allowed but will not be economical for the vast majority of pubs, say campaigners.

There is also confusion around pubs that also operate as shops, as some do and many pubs have an off-license, including in areas where there is no other facility that does.

The Campaign for Pubs are calling on the Government to change their position on this, as they did in the November lockdown, initially banning takeaways before reversing that decision.

The Campaign for Pubs is also calling for the money rightly returned by supermarkets, who benefited from the business rates holiday despite being able to trade, to be used to provide the adequate grants for pubs and hospitality, that have borne the brunt of the lockdowns and restrictions whilst supermarkets have been unaffected.

Greg Mulholland, campaign director, said: “An urgent package of support is needed to save our world-famous pubs.

"Ministers need to realise now that unless they act decisively and provide adequate grants to get pubs through another lockdown, the future of many beloved, important and historic pubs is at risk and the future for many families is bleak.

"Without urgent, adequate support, many pubs, including pubs that have survived for centuries and two world wars, will be lost – and many families reliant on pubs and hospitality face hardship and homelessness.

“Once again, pubs have been unfairly scapegoated with the ban on takeaways and the Campaign for Pubs is calling for this to be reversed. It’s wrong for pubs to be prevented from operating as off-licences, whilst supermarkets continue to trade without any restrictions”.