Thursday, 6 December 2012

More "save the pub" nonsense from Ministers


The government has this "pub is the hub" project that:

...good licensees communities, pub owners, breweries, local authorities and the private sector to work together to match community priority needs with additional services which can be provided by the local pub and a good licensee.

Today Communities Minister, Brandon Lewis announced another £150,000 to promote the scheme and then brags about all the other things the government is doing to "help" pubs:

‘The Government is taking decisive action to support community pubs including doubling business rate relief, which gives up to 100% discounts for small firms including pubs and postponing revaluation will also avoid local pubs facing an 11% rise in their business rates bills."

We then get nonsense about competition from supermarkets and using Community Right to Bid so as to stop a (presumably unviable) pub from closing.

Sadly, Brandon doesn't mention the two big things have contributed the most to pubs - and especially the wet-led local boozer - closing down:

1. Europe's second highest rates of duty on beer
2. The smoking ban

If you really care about pubs, Brandon, do something about these and we'll believe you.



Curmudgeon said...

And the general demonisation of even moderate alcohol consumption.

As I’ve said on my blog in the past, "a society in which the regular, moderate consumption of alcohol is viewed in a relaxed, tolerant way as a normal part of everyday life will have successful pubs. On the other hand, pubs will struggle when alcohol is widely regarded in a censorious and disapproving manner."

BrianB said...

Of all the reasons for pub closures, the smoking ban has undoubtedly been the most devastating.

Only a fool or an extreme anti-smoker (if that isn't too oxymoronic) can fail to recognize that there was a huge step change after 1 July 2007 - with a 5-fold increase in net pub closures to a rate approaching 2,000 a year that continues to this day.

Get the ashtrays (and their users) back into the pubs, mandate decent ventilation standards from the 'comfort' perspective, and watch the trade start to soar.

In this unlikely eventuality, I would even start to visit pubs again myself - for the first time in over 5 years!

We must never stop reminding the politicians of the true facts, as opposed to the mendacity of the public health lobbyists.

Keep up the good work, Simon.

Anonymous said...

To blame the smoking ban is simplistic in the extreme. It does not explain why good operators can still make money and run successful pubs.
The real problem with the Pub industry is the lack of regulation of the large Pubco's. Enterprise Inns for example. These companies have little interest in the pub, or brewing, industry. They are property companies. It is next to impossible for a licensee to run one of their pubs at a reasonable return. Why? Because the big Pubco's are covering up a massive black hole in their books by hugely inflating both the value of their property holding as it stands and the amount of business it can be reasonably be expected to do.
Many of these Pubco's are actually insolvent ...IF a realistic audit were to be taken of what their portfolio was actually worth in today's market. However, in order to perpetuate this deception Pub rents/freeholds are kept at levels that prevent many Pubs from being realistic business opportunities. Hence so many closed pubs. But of course nobody seems to have the courage to call time on this nonsense. It's stalemate. Pubco's will not drop the values because their sums would be seen not to add up.
Talking about smoking bans in the face of such an overwhelming problem is utterly useless I am afraid. Pub decline had started long before the smoking ban....anyone in the industry for any length of time knows this. Many are simply afraid to say so.

I daresay this isn't what you want to hear. So don't expect the comment to be approved. lol

Anonymous said...

BTW...there is an early day motion on the subject
The narrative lays it out plainly. I note also that only ONE Conservative has signed this. That tells me everything about where the Government's true interests rest.

Curmudgeon said...

I don't think Simon or anyone else is advancing the smoking ban as the sole cause of pub closures, but it clearly has made a major contribution. And of course it hasn't rendered the entire pub trade unviable, so some pubs can still be successful, but the total amount of trade on offer is markedly less than before. Beer sales in pubs are more than 25% down since 2007, so it is hardly surprising many have closed.