16 February 2023

As a former Business Minister and small business owner myself, I know how rewarding it can be to own one’s own business. However, I also know how tough it can be too – and have been acutely aware of how difficult the past few months (and the pandemic before then) have been for so many local companies and entrepreneurs.

One sector hit especially hard is our pub and hospitality sector. The pressures brought on by increased energy prices and the cost of living crisis have made operating costs far higher and limited the amount of disposable income customers are able to spend – reducing profit margins and, sadly, forcing a number of our local rural pubs to close.

In recent weeks, I have been made aware of the closure of The Green Dragon in Wymondham, Darby’s in Swanton Morley and the Windmill Inn at Necton. Each pub lost is a massive loss to our local communities.

As so many of us know, pubs are often at the very heart of our communities and rural heritage, playing a key role in keeping our villages and towns vibrant. That’s why, throughout my time as the MP for Mid Norfolk, I have visited and supported so many of the fantastic pubs in our area – including the likes of the Beeston Ploughshare, The Lodge at North Tuddenham, The White Swan at Gressenhall and The Crown at Great Ellingham.

Aware of the immense pressures facing our local pub sector, I have been in communication with a number of local establishments, and recently visited Jonathan Pearson at The White Hart Pub in Ashill to discuss in more detail the difficulties that he and so many other landlords are currently facing. (To find out more, please view the video below).

From my conversations with constituents and local councillors, I know just how worried so many are in Mid Norfolk about the long term futures of their local pubs. Please be assured that I am, with parliamentary colleagues, making the strong case for greater support for our pubs and hospitality sectors in the Chancellor’s upcoming Budget.

I remain committed to doing all I can to speak up on behalf of this vital local sector – as well as the many local households and businesses also struggling during this difficult time.

To see more about my historic work supporting local pubs and businesses, please visit my ‘Backing local Businesses’ campaign page here.