I mentioned in the a previous article that the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG) was conducting an inquiry into the future of cask beer in the UK. A second inquiry has now been announced, this time being conducted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pubs (Pubs APPG). The Pubs APPG is a cross-party group of MPs who aim to promote and campaign for pubs, landlords, and the communities around them. CAMRA’s Campaigns Team is providing secretarial support for them in respect of the inquiry, which was launched on 30 April.
The Pubs APPG inquiry is looking to collect views from consumers, licensees, pub staff and trade organisations regarding the impact of the COVID pandemic, from which they will produce a report containing recommendations to the Government on what support the pub trade will need in the coming months and years.
There are three separate surveys: one for consumers, one for landlords and pub employees, and one for trade organisations. It is usual practice for CAMRA to make a submission to such enquiries but this time the process went one better. All CAMRA members (or, at least, those who have registered their e-mail address) received a note from Charlotte Nichols MP, the chair of the Pubs APPG, asking them to complete an on-line survey giving their views. This was a unique opportunity for individual CAMRA members to make their voice heard and hopefully many members took it. The closing date was 21 May. For reference, the survey website is https://apppg.camra.org.uk/inquiry/.
CAMRA’s Campaigns Team was conducting the consultation with the national groups and trade organisations and were also using CAMRA’s WhatPub database to let licensees know about the inquiry and asking them to take part. In addition, the Campaigns Team are contacting MPs to ask them to promote and support the inquiry and have asked CAMRA branches to also contact them to let them know that this inquiry matters to their constituents.
Returning to the APPBG inquiry, the British Institute of Innkeeping has published details of their submission. This was based on a survey which they conducted among their 9,000 members. Of those who replied, over 76% said that cask ale was ‘very or extremely important’ in terms of what they offered. That said, 43% of them added that they would most likely reopen with fewer handpumps than they had before the pandemic. Many central London pubs will no doubt be in that group. You can understand why businesses suffering from a reduced cash flow would be careful about overstocking a product which, by its nature, has a short shelf life. Overall, sales of cask beer in 2020 were just 60% of those in 2019.