Covid-19 Economic Support Package

Hospitality is one of Britain’s biggest employers. Some 3.2 million people across the country rely on hospitality for their jobs, including 4,300 of my constituents in Dudley South. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has always been a real and true friend of the beer and pubs sectors, in particular. He knows how much they have been affected by this pandemic, and he has delivered a comprehensive and unprecedented economic support package. Without such a support package, many thousands of pubs and breweries would simply not have survived the spring. They would not have got through the first phase of this outbreak.

I do not know whether the Chancellor has seen his rather fetching likeness on posters in pubs up and down the country, recognising the contribution that many of those support measures have made to making our pubs and other hospitality viable over the past six months but, as we are now firmly in a new phase of the pandemic, new measures are vital for those businesses that are not necessarily legally compelled to close. For those that are required to close their doors, the grant he has announced, although it may not cover the whole rent and all the fixed costs, will make a substantial contribution to the costs those businesses incur even before they pull a single pint or serve a single meal. However, there are also enormous challenges facing venues that are not legally compelled to close, those in tiers 1 and 2, where the legal restrictions that have been introduced make it impossible for them to operate. We know that one in 10 pubs has never reopened since March’s lockdown, and about two thirds of those that did reopen were already trading at a loss last month. That was before the introduction of 10 o’clock closing, mandatory table service, and of course the new restrictions that have come into effect today.