The beer and pub sector will look on with hope as the first King’s Speech is delivered for the first time in 72 years today.
King Charles has long been a supporter of our nation’s pubs. Only last year, he wrote of the serious challenges that pubs have faced as a result of the pandemic and the need for pubs to be supported by the public, in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide.
But more recently, the pandemic and the cost of living crisis have put a real strain on communities and the pubs at the heart of them.
In the last ten years there has been a 15% drop in pub numbers, with hundreds closing every year. By the time the King celebrates his tenth anniversary on the throne, we could see, on current projections, another 18% plummet.
A new report from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) — Inn-Valuable: Unlocking the Socio-economic Potential of our Nation’s Pubs — has found:
- 81% of people say pubs are important in bringing people together
- 75% of people feel the pub has a positive effect on their community
- 68% of British adults say the pub helps combat loneliness
It is in this context that the BBPA is calling for the government to take immediate action to support pubs by extending small business rate relief, stopping pubs from being hit with a £250 million increased business rate bill this April. It also wants the government to rule out any further increases in beer duty.
“Despite the decline in their numbers since the last King’s Speech, pubs remain right at the heart of communities across the UK, often acting as the only remaining hub for groups or individuals of any creed, any background, looking to come together, bond and relax,” said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA.
“The government has a golden opportunity with this King’s Speech to give a vital affirmation of the role of those pubs in local communities and economies by providing further investment to ensure the enduring survival and success of this great British institution.”
Kevin Georgel, chief executive of St Austell Brewery, added: “We were honoured to have His Majesty King Charles III — when he was HRH the Prince of Wales — visit St Austell Brewery in 2019.
» Enjoying Beer Today? Become a Patreon supporter from £1.50 a month
“He met with our brewers, employees from across the business, publicans, suppliers, and Cornish barley farmers. His Majesty clearly has a great passion for our sector and recognises the important part that pubs play in communities across the UK.
“Our business was founded in 1851; 172 years on, our industry continues to play a vital role, both to local communities and in growing the economy. This King’s Speech is a prime opportunity for the government to acknowledge this and provide meaningful support for pubs and breweries, which will allow our sector to continue playing this role in the decades to come.”
Michael Cole, former BBC royal correspondent, noted: “Visiting pubs has always been a part, not only of royal duty, but of royal pleasure. The late Queen even included Coronation Street’s Rovers and Albert Square’s Queen Vic in her engagement, though fictional, are probably two of the country’s most famous pubs.
“The King, as Prince of Wales, and his late father, often took guests and gamekeepers for nourishing food and tankards of ale in Sandringham’s locals. Many pubs on the wayside of the estate have benefited from royal patronage from time to time.”