Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, commented: The Government has been clear that pubs must now shut down. The safety and wellbeing of people is our priority. We stand ready to play our part in the fight against COVID-19 and in the process protecting our communities and employees. As a sector employing nearly one million people, the Chancellor’s support package announced today on staff wages will safeguard thousands of livelihoods and help closed pubs try to get through this difficult period. We stand ready to work with the Government to ensure that the support is accessible as fast as possible. There remain areas where we need further support to sustain our great brewing and pub sector through this difficult time, to ensure that all staff will have jobs to return to and to guarantee all pubs can reopen again when this crisis is over and continue to be at the heart of communities up and down the country.
The British Beer and Pub Association is calling on the Government for further urgent interventions to keep pubs from closing, amid fears that thousands could collapse this weekend. Despite initial government relief, pubs urgently need liquidity measures in order to pay wages and prevent thousands of pubs from closing, with the subsequent loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. An open letter to Rishi Sunak from the industry outlines that while the government has offered some initial relief to pubs, the current package does not address the immediate cash flow pressures they are facing. Without immediate and decisive action to create cash and liquidity, thousands of pubs will be unable to pay staff wages and could be forced to close this weekend, before the initial government relief ever reaches them. As a priority, the British Beer and Pub Association is asking that the Government underwrites at least 75% of wages for all pub and brewing staff, enabling employers to pay staff during this period of uncertainty. It is estimated this would cost the government £1billion. In addition, the British Beer and Pub Association is asking for the Government to cancel Excise Duty and VAT payments that pubs are due to pay on 25th March and 31st March respectively. This will enable pub operating companies across the country to redirect much needed cash directly into their businesses, helping to prevent closures and save jobs. The industry is also urging the government to begin immediate distribution of the £10,000 and £25,000 government grants announced on 17 March, or underwrite them, to positively impact pubs’ cash flow. The industry also requires the government to underwrite all insurance costs for business interruption for a period of at least 3 months for the pub sector. This money must be given to insurers now or directly to businesses, to prevent thousands of pubs from closing permanently. British Beer and Pub Association CEO, Emma McClarkin commented, “Pubs are in a crisis today. We need urgent intervention from the Government to prevent a catastrophic number of job losses and the sector damaged beyond repair. We recognise as a sector that we are in unprecedented times. We are prepared to play our part, but whilst we welcome the measures outlined so far by the Government, they do not deal with the immediate cash flow and liquidity crisis our industry faces now’. She continued, ‘As a sector, we stand ready to work with the Government on saving jobs and finding a solution. However, as a sector we cannot stress enough that the Government has just 24 hours to create a pub specific package to prevent irreversible closures and job losses. We have outlined to the Government the rescue package that is needed and stand ready to work with them to make it happen” To view the BBPA's letter to the Chancellor please click here.
Responding to the Chancellor’s Budget, Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, commented: “Pub goers across the UK will be toasting the Chancellor tonight for freezing beer duty. This freeze alone will save pub goers £80 million and secure 2,000 vital jobs across the country. “82% of the beer we drink here is brewed in the UK, so this is a very welcome decision that will help pubs and brewers across the UK. Cheers to the Chancellor! “At the beginning of the year we welcomed the Government’s decision to cut business rates for the UK’s smallest pubs by £1,000. It is great to see the Chancellor listen to our calls to take this one step further by increasing the relief to £5,000 for pubs with a rateable value up to £100,000. “The announcement that pubs with a Rateable Value of £51,000 or less will not pay their rates over the next financial year is an enormous boost. For pubs who already pay little or no business rates, a £3,000 small business relief grant is available, which 14,000 pubs could benefit from. “In total the additional business rates support announced for pubs is worth over £190 million. “Pubs pay 2.8% of rates despite accounting for only 0.5% of rateable turnover across the country. Such reliefs are vital until the fundamentally unfair system is overhauled. We therefore welcome the call for evidence on business rates reform announced today, commencing in the spring. “Following the extensive review into Small Brewer’s Relief, we welcome confirmation that the Government will publish its results in the spring. We hope the Government’s response will recognise the long-standing distortions caused by the current structure, whilst supporting growth among brewers of all sizes. “Overall, this has been a great Budget for pubs, pub goers and Britain’s world-class brewing industry worth £270 million. We hope the Government continues to support our industry in the future, recognising the vital role it plays in our communities and lives across the UK.”