Covid-19: Hospitality Industry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:59 pm on 24th March 2021.

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Photo of Kate Griffiths Kate Griffiths Conservative, Burton 4:59 pm, 24th March 2021

I thank my hon. Friend Selaine Saxby for securing this important debate, and I agree with the many important points that she made. The unprecedented support that this Government have provided to hospitality businesses over the past year has undoubtedly saved many jobs and livelihoods across my constituency of Burton and Uttoxeter. However, there is still much more that can be done to help this industry recover from the biggest crisis that it has ever suffered.

Over the past few years, we have seen the slow decline of our high streets, as habits have changed and online shopping has taken over. We must not allow the same thing to happen to our community pubs and the breweries that support them. Supermarkets have stayed open and continued to meet the needs of shoppers during this period of lockdown, but as we follow the road map and restrictions ease, we must ensure that our local pubs are able and willing to welcome us back.

My hon. Friend the Minister will be aware of the high street’s “Shop Local” campaign, but will he support Carling’s campaign to “Support Your Local”? As colleagues will know, I am proud to represent the historic brewing town of Burton-on-Trent, where Carling is brewed by local people. The campaign highlights the role of the local pub—a place where old stories are remembered and new ones are made, and the best place for a nice cold pint, but much more than that, a place that is at the heart of our communities.

Pubs play a huge role in all our constituencies. They provide significant employment opportunities for young adults and are at the centre of our towns and villages. In Burton, pubs and breweries take centre stage in our town’s heritage. Over the past year, they have been working tirelessly to ensure that they keep customers safe, and so many have gone beyond their usual remit to support their communities throughout the pandemic.

The £352 billion package of support provided by the Government, including for the hospitality industry, has ensured that the sector has survived the difficulties of the past year, but we must recognise the wider role that the British pub plays in our communities and ensure that pubs not only survive but thrive in our neighbourhoods, supporting jobs and growth in local areas.

The Chancellor announced that beer duty would be frozen this year, but I urge the Minister to look at the benefits of a new draught-beer duty rate specifically targeting wet-led community pubs and breweries, which have not been recipients under other policies. Many pubs and bars are in a perilous financial position, and many will not survive without help. I hope that, during the forthcoming review of alcohol duty, the Minister will reflect on these arguments and help to level the playing field between the price of beer sold in social community settings and cheap supermarket alcohol consumed at home.