The hospitality and brewing sector is hoping that today is the day when action is finally pledged to help the industry ahead of a winter of potential closures and failures.
Alan Cairns MP pulls a pint at The Bear Hotel, Cowbridge. Photograph: UKHospitality
The key request for the incoming prime minister will be help with rocketing energy costs, which threaten brewers’ ability to make beer and licensees ability to serve it.
But the new PM might also like to consider:
- Getting on with the proposals for a different rate of tax on draught beer and cider
- Lower VAT for hospitality
- Easing the disproportionate business rates burden on pubs
- Promoting hospitality as an attractive career for young people, and making it easier for pubs to recruit and retain staff with changes to the apprenticeship levy and more hospitality qualifications
There is not complete silence from Westminster. Conservative Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns last week visited The Beat Hotel, in Cowbridge, near Cardiff, to hear the concerns of Julian and Freddy Hancock. They own the Town and Country Collective, of which The Bear is a part.
They told the MP that soaring energy bills, on top of other rising costs, are hitting the group “very hard”.
Cairns said he would pass on the concerns of the businesses to the Treasury, and said the hospitality industry was vital to the future economic growth of the Vale of Glamorgan. “This industry is a main driver of the economy in towns and villages across the Vale and Wales, so it’s vital we all try and help them as much as possible to survive in yet more very challenging times for the sector.”
During his visit, he undertook several hotel tasks, to help promote the wide variety of work and career opportunities on offer. He pulled a pint, helped executive chef Tom Bowsher plate up a menu special, and sat in on a management meeting.
• Trade body LIVE (Live music, venues, and entertainment) says the country’s live music scene is under immense pressure because of the energy crisis.
Chief executive Jon Collins said: “The triple threat of a cost-of-living crisis, the post-pandemic hangover, and skyrocketing energy prices could spell the end of the UK’s live music scene as we know it.
“Millions of people have just enjoyed a spectacular summer of live music, but this is now under threat. We face cuts to programming, venue closures and an unbearable strain on an already fragile industry. Government must act to protect this world-leading and uniquely British endeavour before it is too late.”
Blog: Pubs and ale’s special place in our cultural landscape
Anyone who’s been to a pub lately will know that things ain’t what they used to be. Numbers are down, visits are fewer, by and large. Where I work occasionally, we are lucky. We have very dedicated regulars and a unqiue brewpub cask ale offer which brings in visitors from around the country. And we are a freehouse, too.
So, relatively lucky. There isn’t a huge space to heat, not a big lighting bill. But I know many other venues aren’t so lucky. There’s never been a more challenging time to be a licensee.
In my other life, of course, I’m at the keyboard in my kitchen and constantly updating the brewery listings. Constantly. And there is only one very definite direction brewery numbers are going in.
Many people will have spent thousands, tens of thousands even, on their dream brewery project. Perhaps redundancy cash. Many are seeing those dreams shattered.
Beer — particularly cask ale — and pubs are two of the biggest attractions we offer tourists. And for us they are signs of a safe haven, the familiarity of space and people. Places where we can meet and escape the rest of the crap going on in the world.
Every sector has the right, of course, to campaign — bakeries, high street retailers, farmers, grocers — but the pub and our national drink have a special case in British culture and must be helped as much as possible. Get on it, Liz or Rishi.