Skip to main content
Top of the Page

Here you can find licensed trade news and updates, the weekly e-newsletter INNfocus, past editions of the BII News (our quarterly magazine), and hear all about our latest industry campaigns.

Hospitality and pub industry leaders write to Prime Minister demanding support after roadmap delay

Trade bodies including BBPA, UKH and BII “bitterly disappointed” by delay which will cost pub sector alone £400 million.

Every day of critical summer trading lost for pubs is a step closer to business failure

The Prime Minister’s announcement today has delivered yet another devastating blow for our nations’ fragile and debt-laden pubs.

Over the course of the pandemic, the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has consistently taken the voice of its members to Government, leaving them in no doubt that a delay at any stage of the already cautious roadmap which restricts the ability of pubs to once again trade freely and fully, will be hugely damaging to the recovery of the whole sector.

With rent, business rates for England and loan repayments all becoming due in the next few weeks on top of already heavy staffing costs and mounting losses, any delayed return to full and free trading MUST be met with further short term support.

The BII is urgently continuing to call for:

  • Full business rate cancellation until April 22 for England, in line with the other devolved nations, 
  • Further extension of the VAT cut at 5% until next year, 
  • A targeted duty cut on draught beer served in pubs, and
  • Formal postponement of any form of Government debt, including Bounce Back & CBILS loans, as well as VAT payments.

BII CEO, Steve Alton, said:

“Pubs at the heart of their communities are built on the resilience provided by the summer months, boosted by sporting events, large scale family celebrations and being an essential part of the UK tourism offer. Put simply, every day of critical summer trading lost, is a step closer to business failure.

“Whilst many outside of the hospitality sector may perceive this delay as being a small price to pay, for pubs, with 16 months of severe disruption & closure behind them, any further delay requires further and immediate support.

“Government must now urgently extend short term support to help minimise the effects that these continuing restrictions will have on pubs and the wider hospitality sector. The pressure of the debts that have mounted over the course of the pandemic is now meeting significant costs coming back on line for businesses head on, creating a perfect storm.

“Even without the delay, we know that the recovery for our sector will be prolonged over many years, with pandemic specific debts per site averaging between £40k and £80k. There needs to be a long term plan in place to provide these vital community spaces with the opportunity to rebuild their livelihoods, whilst supporting local employment and contributing to the UK’s overall economic recovery.

“We have seen the pent-up demand from customers desperate to return to their normal lives, but this delay and ongoing uncertainty will have far reaching consequences for every area of the hospitality sector, affecting the confidence of consumers, potential employees uncertain on the stability of jobs and essential investment in our viable businesses.

“Government must now break this perpetual cycle of uncertainty. They must now provide urgent clarity on how this further delay will enable our members to fully reopen their businesses as soon as possible.  Critical to the recovery of our sector is the ability to simply trade free of restrictions and be able to plan for the future.”

National Pubwatch: Warning issued over safety of vulnerable customers

Licensees need to ensure staff are fully trained to support vulnerable customers or face losing their reputation as a safe and secure venue, National Pubwatch has warned. 

As pubs and late-night venues are set to reopen fully in June National Pubwatch is urging publicans to educate staff to recognise and act when there may be any incidents that may put vulnerable customers at risk. 
This can be anything from refusing entry to a female customer and leaving her alone outside a premises which could make her vulnerable to predators or failing to intervene when a woman looks as if she has been unknowingly drugged.  
This challenging year with the Covid-19 pandemic has seen many venues closed in various lockdowns while concerns about public safety, especially that of women, has risen. As the industry reopens pubs and late-night venues need to offer confidence to customers that their venues are safe and secure.
The actions of staff, some of which may have been newly recruited with the reopening of the sector, can have a major impact on safety and protecting those that are vulnerable.  In response National Pubwatch has created a training film called Supporting Vulnerable People, which takes frontline staff through a variety of scenarios on how to ensure the safety of customers. 
This includes what actions should be taken when a female has been separated from her friends, to how to intervene when a woman who is drunk or drugged is being approached by an unknown male, to dealing with a domestic fight or helping a customer deal with unwanted attention. 
National Pubwatch chairman Steve Baker, OBE, said: “Frontline staff need to be able to identify any potential incidents as well as recognise the unintended consequences of their own actions. The best way to manage vulnerability is to ensure you have equipped your team with the guidance and skills to effectively deal with people before they become an issue.” 

He added: “The reputation of any pub and bar as a safe and secure venue will stand or fall on how they deal with vulnerable customers. 
“The film has been designed to help generate team discussions on the issue of vulnerability and how staff can positively respond to protect them.”
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “This has been a challenging year for our sector, but as we begin to reopen and recover it is an opportunity to upskill.
“This training film from National Pubwatch is a great resource to help staff and licensees recognise situations where they may need to protect any customers that may be at risk."
Managing director of Chapel Night Club and secretary and vice chair of Salisbury Pubwatch Amanda Newbery said: “After such a long break from trading, staff upskilling is more important than ever and these videos are a good opener for training sessions. New risks, anxious customers and unfamiliar routines make this quite a high stress environment for our staff.  
“Pubwatch is a supportive membership organisation here in our city and it will be even more important for venue management to work together to get through the reopening stages this summer.”

Advice from National Pubwatch
National Pubwatch advises staff to consider the following when faced with any incidents
•      Evaluate the situation
•      Identify any signs of danger, including aggression  and drunkenness
•      Assess who is the best person to help in the circumstances
•      Work with the vulnerable person to find a solution
•      Treat each person as an individual and do not make snap judgments
To watch the training film go to
National Pubwatch - Supporting Vulnerable People 

BII Menu Matters: June

It's back! As the sun is shining and pubs across the UK have finally begun to reopen, our regular monthly Menu Matters feature is returning.

This month, Martin Eshelby, the food innovation manager at food supplier Oliver Kay, has taken a look at food ideas for the Euro tournament, advice on hosting a winning BBQ and suggested some seafood and snacking recipe ideas. Long may the sunshine continue!

Make Your Sporty Snacks Stand Out This Summer

Martin Eshelby, food innovation manager, supporting menu development for fresh produce supplier Oliver Kay (, offers some ideas for simple, tasty and profitable food to serve on sporting occasions this summer.  
The summer of sport is on! With the Euros now underway, Wimbledon starting at the end of June, a full programme of Test Matches, and the Olympics in July and August, there’s no shortage of opportunities for pubs and bars to fire up the big screens and schedule in some sporty sessions for customers.

Watching sport on TV is very much a drinks-led occasion for most barstool pundits, but offering a tailored food menu to accompany all those pints and pitchers helps to keep the crowds happy, and also increases profits – especially if you take the menu a few notches up from the standard bagged snacks.

Premium sausage rolls, pork pies and scotch eggs can easily form the basis of a summer bar snack menu. Specialist catering suppliers such as Campbell Brothers ( should be your first port of call, offering a wide choice, but if you have the time to make your own bar snacks, all the better.

Campbell Brothers also sell pie casings to add your own fillings, while this recipe for a Pork and Rhubarb pie is a wonderful fresh take on a pub favourite: 

For a hearty vegan alternative to a classic steak and ale pie, try making this Wild Rice, Onion, Button Mushroom and Ale pie: 

Big up the Barbecue

Burgers are a top-selling dish in pubs, and whether they’re served from a summer barbecue or customised in the kitchen, a gourmet burger menu is ideal for sporting summer occasions. Your catering butcher can supply fresh beef, pork, lamb and turkey mince to make your own, or catering packs of ready-made burgers, as well as sausages and other barbecue-friendly products. Offer speciality cheeses, freshly chopped veg, and gourmet relishes to allow customers to have their burger “their way”, as the saying goes. 

Stay sustainable: Ask your supplier to trim steaks to size before delivery, which saves time and ensures consistency, and ask for the trimmed beef as mince or ready-made burgers, which should be a cost-effective option as well as reducing food waste.  

Don’t neglect vegetarian and vegan burger choices, where sales continue to grow, as more consumers cut out meat for some or all of the time. There are some great ready-made options available, or use products such as grilled halloumi or oyster mushroom as the basis for your home-made veggie burger.

For a satisfying vegan snack, try this recipe for pressed oyster mushroom steak, scrambled tofu and potato and kale hash:

Seafood Specials

The number of seagans, those following a largely plant-based diet combined with sustainable seafood, is also on the increase. Hand-held seafood snacks are a great option for those looking for lighter dishes. 

Direct Seafoods (, which has depots around the country and works with the UK fishing fleet to supply chefs with fresh, sustainably caught fish, can supply ready-prepared seafood such as battered wholetail scampi, breaded squid strips, and Thai-style crab fishcakes, for snack menus. 
Preparing your own seafood dishes can be as simple as offering an upmarket fish finger sandwich made with artisan bread and homemade tartare sauce, or cooking fish kebabs on the barbecue, using a variety of in-season species and fresh veg. 
For a cheeky – literally- and satisfying seafood snack, serve these freshly-fried Cod and Monkfish Bites: 

Stay sustainable: Direct Seafoods can advise pubs on making sustainable menu choices, and you can also check if the fish you are using has a good sustainably rating here: 
Find out which fish are in season here: 

Sharing snacks 

Sharing favourites such as nachos, pizza and filled potato skins are popular as food choices for groups enjoying sport on TV together. Using beef mince for a chilli filling, or bacon offcuts with cheese, will have strong customer appeal, and for a vegetarian option try this recipe for Crispy Potato Skin stuffed with Potato and Leek Risotto: 

Match Point

Finally, for Wimbledon, strawberries and cream is the classic dish, and fresh Britsh strawberries also go beautifully in a glass of Pimm’s or summer cocktail. Speak to your fresh produce supplier to make the most of fresh berries and fruits in season. 

Industry-first campaign, Apprentices Now! Leads Zero Cost Job Board for any UK Hospitality Employer

Hospitality Jobs UK (HJUK), a specialist hospitality job board, is bolstering its services for hospitality employers as available skilled hospitality staff continue to diminish following Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The job board, which has seen demand for relevant candidates from hotel, pub, bar, restaurant, catering and leisure employers surge in weeks, has launched a new campaign to draw new talent into the industry. 

This industry-first initiative provides hospitality employers zero cost job board advertising for any hospitality apprenticeship across the UK. *In April, vacancies in UK hospitality soared 77% from the previous month. But, as candidates return to their home countries following Brexit and the global pandemic, hospitality is facing an industry-wide skills shortage for all levels of job roles. As hospitality businesses continue to re-open, the requirement for employees grows. A lack of available staff creates a bleak domino effect on hospitality businesses as venues can’t operate without staff. The goal of this campaign is to reduce the skills gap by showcasing hospitality as a great place to work with excellent career development opportunities. It will help recruit new talent with a passion for the hospitality industry, willing to train and learn new skills. The campaign, entitled Apprentices Now!, is available for all hospitality employers to take advantage of with immediate effect. 

This initiative sits alongside HJUK’s portfolio of campaigns to encourage new talent into the industry, including actively speaking at conferences and events, supporting industry trading bodies, promoting the work of its charity partners, financial contributions and shares specialist recruitment advice across a variety of media platforms and interviews. 

Commenting about Apprentices Now!, Dawn Redman, Founder and Co-Director of Hospitality Jobs UK, said; “The last year has been incredibly tough on everyone, we’ve all been through it together. As a supplier to the industry, it’s our responsibility to continue this journey together, doing everything we can to support our fabulous industry. By utilising our multiple platforms, Apprentices Now! will ensure HJUK becomes the go-to job board for apprentices, whilst supporting companies by advertising their apprenticeship roles at zero cost. There simply is no better time to roll out this initiative and we are so proud to support the industry any way we can.” 

Paul James, Head of Sales, Hospitality Jobs UK, said; “I’m speaking to hospitality employers on a daily basis, and I am hearing more and more about the increased need for skilled employees, across all sectors. The pool of talent is getting smaller. Apprentices Now! enables us to help our clients by the facing the issue head on and taking matters into our own hands. It’s a pretty bold initiative given we are offering our platform at no cost, but doing it means we will help attract additional candidates into the industry which enables companies to confidently grow in the future. That is priceless.” 

Find out more here.

Ongoing restrictions crushing the future of our nations’ pubs

We have today released the results of our latest survey of members, detailing their experiences around reopening and the financial realities of trading whilst restrictions remain in place.

Whilst the vast majority of pubs across the UK have now been able to reopen and welcome customers back, they are still facing a huge number of issues as they try to rebuild their businesses. 74% of survey respondents are trading at less than 75% when compared to 2019 figures with trading restrictions, meaning they are loss-making or break even at best – not a sustainable position for any business.

Staffing continues to be one of the main challenges, with 53% saying they cannot recruit enough staff to cope with the additional workload created by Covid restrictions, and 35% say they have lost staff as soon as they have returned from furlough.  

67% said that a lack of public understanding about the constantly changing rules and regulations for indoor vs outdoor visits has put more pressure on staff to effectively communicate and manage customer visits.

Debts from the pandemic

To enable their survival over the course of the pandemic and the months of closures for their pubs, nearly 60% have had to take a Bounce Back loan to survive and 24% still have unpaid rent debt that they are now also facing.

Almost 50% have pandemic specific debts of over £20k per pub and despite using their reserves, in many cases using their savings and borrowing from their own pensions, half of these have debts of between £40k and £80k per pub.

56% have said that they will need more than 2 years to repay the debts accumulated in the pandemic, and half of those will still be paying off those debts over a minimum of 5 to 10 years.

Without restrictions fully lifted, enabling them to trade freely and fully from 21st June, 11% of businesses will fail, 43% will be loss-making and will continue to take further debt, whilst 34% will only manage to break even with current regulations in place.

When thinking about support that they need in place for their businesses to remain sustainable as they trade again free of restrictions, allowing them to rebuild and recover, they highlighted the following:

82% say an extension of a full business rate reduction until April 2022 for England, in line with the other devolved nations, is necessary or business critical, whilst 89% say a full and fundamental reform of the rates system for pubs is needed to rebalance the burden with the digital economy and other sectors.

To support the strong trading they will need to drive their recovery 89% say that the current VAT reduction to 5% needs to be extended until April 2022, with the same number calling for a specific cut in duty for draught products in pubs.

60% say they need help from Government with the rent debt from the pandemic, with 66% calling for further support from their landlords. 70% say there is a need for further grant support to help them rebuild their businesses.

Steven Alton, CEO of the BII, commented:

“Whilst it has been fantastic to see many of our nations’ pubs reopening after months of closures, our members and their teams are exhausted as they try to rebuild their businesses, keep staff and customers safe, and adhere to all of the extensive restrictions, specifically placed on their venues.

“Without the full lifting of restrictions on 21st June, especially table service and social distancing, which render the majority of our members unprofitable, these viable businesses face at the very least an uncertain future, filled with years of debt repayments, and at worst, immediate business failure.

“We have taken our members voices to the heart of Government throughout the course of the pandemic, specifically highlighting the significant role they play in the economy, through employment and support of their local communities across the UK.

“Without real certainty of trading once again, free of restrictions, the vital role they are able to play at the heart of our nations’ recovery is in jeopardy. We are calling on Government to now deliver against its roadmap, allowing our pubs to begin their long road to recovery, before it’s too late.”

To view the full report, click here.

Hospitality & Pub Sector’s ability to be at the heart of the recovery in jeopardy

Leading hospitality trade bodies, British Institute of Innkeeping, British Beer & Pub Association and UK Hospitality have written to the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to highlight the critical business impact of uncertainty surrounding the move to Step 4 of the Covid roadmap.

The letter outlines how that uncertainty is exacerbating workforce challenges, with workers unconfident that the hospitality and pub sector are a stable sector for careers. It also conveys the significant additional staffing costs incurred due to current restrictions such as table ordering and additional test and trace requirements.

Confirming that the sector remains passionate about creating accessible and skilled jobs across the UK’s communities, they explain that the sector’s ability to do this is now in jeopardy.  

Key points from the letter include:

  • One in four of our businesses, 26,500 venues, remain closed due to legal restrictions.  Those venues that are trading are doing so with significantly reduced capacity and are delivering revenues at 63% of normal pre-Covid levels. 
  • Each further month of trading at this reduced capacity reduces revenues by a further £3bn for the sector critically undermining the sustainability of our businesses and putting jobs at risk.  
  • The sector has seen closures of 12,000 hospitality businesses over the last year, 1 in 10 of restaurants and 1 in 5 of town centre casual dining and late night bars.

A spokesperson for the trade associations said:

“The Government is assessing potential risks around removing all restrictions on the 21st June and we urge them to follow their own roadmap, if the data supports it, and to allow the hospitality and pub sector to open free of restrictions.  

“We urge them to fully consider the significant risk that a delay would result in business failures and job losses in every community across the UK. Our members’ businesses are extremely fragile and only the dropping of restrictions and the extension of the business rates holiday in England until April 2022, will enable them to snap back at the heart of the economic recovery.”

The letter to Rt. Hon Rishi Sunak MP and Rt. Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP can be found here.

APPBG Releases "The Future of Cask Beer" Report

MPs say urgent help is needed to save UK breweries and pubs. The report highlights the devastating impact of the pandemic on pubs and the wider hospitality sector, as well as sales of draught beer.

A new report, issued by the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG) of MPs, has called on the Government to deliver urgent support to save pubs and breweries. The report is released during a review of alcohol duty at HM Treasury which is expected to be completed during the summer.

The report, Caskenomics: Cask beer’s COVID crisis and the impact on people pubs and places, follows an Inquiry carried out by the APPBG and produced with evidnce from a cross section of more than 30 sector leaders. It notes that the pandemic has already brought about the closure of more than 2,000 pubs and breweries in the UK and has saddled both brewers and pub owners with enormous debts. Without intervention, the report warns, even more community pubs will soon be lost for good.

Commenting on the report, chair of the APPBG, Mike Wood MP, said:

“Brexit provides an opportunity for the Chancellor to charge lower duty rates on draught beers – it’s an opportunity we would urge him to consider! For instance, halving the duty on draught beer – a cut of 22p on an average strength pint – would be a £600 million shot in the arm to save our pubs and breweries.”

BII CEO Steven Alton added:

"The APPBG’s inquiry on the Future of Cask Beer clearly highlights how our nations’ pubs, and their unique attribute of cask beer, are in need of targeted support to protect their futures. Pubs and brewers in all communities need the certainty of trading fully and free of restrictions alongside economic support with the removal of business rates for the full year, an extension of the VAT reduction until April 2022 and an immediate targeted reduction in duty for draught beer in pubs.

"Kelly McCarthy, a BII Trustee, License of the Year Award (LOYA) winner and long standing member of the BII clearly explains why Government support is needed now."

(The full video is available at the end of this article)

Although pubs have now reopened, the report stresses that it is essential for the sector that the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown continues as planned but that even then, sales will not be get back to pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2022 at the earliest.

A key recommendation of the report is for the Government to reduce the tax burden on brewers and pubs through lower duty, VAT or business rates. For instance, the Treasury is urged to consider the merits of lowering duty on draught beers specifically, which are exclusively available in licensed premises and so have been uniquely hit by pubs enforced closure.

The plight of cask beer (or “real ale”) has been specifically highlighted in the report. Prior to the pandemic, the sector contributed 72,500 jobs to the UK economy. Due to its short shelf life, the lockdowns caused 87 million pints of beer, worth more than £300 million, to be poured away.

The enforced closure of hospitality during the pandemic created a sharp rise in duty receipts from wine and spirits bought from supermarkets and off-licences, and a significant decline in receipts from beer. Within the beer sector, cask ale was the hardest hit. Many brewers continued to brew and sell beer for shop-sale as filtered, kegged or bottled beer, keeping the overall sales decline to 18 per cent. For most cask ale producers, this was not possible, and sales fell by 72 per cent to the end of February 2021.

Mike Wood continued:

“The quintessential British pub has never been more vital to our communities than it is today, as we emerge from the dark isolation of the past 14 months. Unfortunately, in order to survive and thrive, the industry needs government to go even further in its support, extending and building on some of the measures introduced after March 2020.

“Supermarkets have flourished over the past year, with sales of wine and spirits soaring. But now we need to make sure that pubs and breweries come out of this fighting too.”

Without Government intervention, the report warns, declining cask ale production would have significant fallout for a number of reasons:

  • Many pubs are reliant on cask ales to draw in wider custom and tourism to the locality with wider benefits for local employment
  • Cask ales are typically relatively low alcohol beers, one of lowest alcohol choices on the bar
  • British hop farmers could go out of business
  • All cask ales are sold in returnable containers making it the greenest way to enjoy a beer.

In order to prevent the decline of pubs and the brewing industry, the APPBG report has made five specific recommendations:

  • Government to reduce the overall burden on brewers and pubs through lower overall duty, VAT and business rates and to urgently consider the specific merits of a lower rate of duty for on-sales of draught beers to encourage footfall back into pubs
  • Government must stick to the roadmap for reopening and run a public information campaign to restore consumer confidence that pubs are safe
  • Government to consider targeted COVID debt-forgiveness and measures to ameliorate the impact of crown debt
  • Industry to convene a working group to capitalise on the possibilities for cask beers as an environmentally friendly, locally focussed, premium and uniquely British product
  • Government to incentivise and/or support investment in the UK’s hop sector, to tide it over a period of unprecedented uncertainty.

The pub sector, the report says, could provide the answer to a number of problems caused by the pandemic like rising unemployment, especially among young people, and social isolation.

Kelly McCarthy, landlady of the Ye Old Sun Inn, Tadcaster and chair of the Yorkshire section of the British Institute of Innkeeping, said:

“In March 2020, it felt like our world had fallen apart. Now, the pubs need a cut in duty, to bring them back into the spotlight; to do that, we need the support of the government.

“It’s essential that the government presses ahead with the roadmap out of lockdown and plans for 21 June. How can businesses plan without that certainty?”

Andy Slee chair of Black Sheep Brewery said:

“Britain’s brewers and community pubs have had an especially tough time in lockdown.

“The Government investment in lower draught beer duty identified by MPs in this report is critical to ensuring that these British institutions can continue to invest in their futures, help protect jobs and allow these community assets to thrive for the good of us all.”

Click here to read the report

Watch the interview with BII Trustee Kelly McCarthy here

Back to Top