Trade association reiterates support for Government-led efforts to control the virus The BBPA has responded to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care’s announcement that several areas in the North East of England would be placed under more stringent restrictions, calling it a “significant blow” but reiterating that the trade remains committed to working with the Government to control the spread of COVID-19. Responding to the announcement, Emma McClarkin said: “As an industry we recognise the need to continue to support the Government and local communities in managing the risk of rising infection rates. We take our responsibilities extremely seriously and our pubs will continue to adhere strictly to Government guidance ensuring that they remain a safe and welcoming place for socialising. “Our sector has been one of the hardest and longest hit by the pandemic. Pubs and brewers have worked tirelessly to get pubs safely open and stocked since July so this latest announcement is another significant blow. “Our data suggests that a third of pubs are still struggling to even break even which indicates that we are at a very delicate moment in our sector’s recovery. Consumer confidence is already very fragile and extra restrictions will inevitably have a further cooling effect on that, not only in the regions where they are in effect but also nationally. “It is vital that the Government recognises the unprecedented challenges that pubs and brewers are facing at this time. We are calling on them to immediately put in place a sector specific furlough scheme beyond October, extend the VAT cut and business rates holiday and make a substantial cut to the punitively high rate of beer duty in the Autumn Budget. These measures will help brewers and pubs work towards a safe and sustainable recovery.”
The British Beer & Pub Association has today revealed that a business rates bill of £800 million for pubs across the UK could be the last straw for many, forcing them to close for good. Responding to the Business Rates Review launched this year by the Government, the first stage of which closes this week, the trade association explained that should the pub sector specific relief on business rates end as planned in March 2021, UK pubs will immediately face a bill of £800 million – an average bill of £25,000 per rate paying pub. According to the BBPA, thousands of pubs across the UK could come financially unstuck if faced with the large rates bill early next year, with as many as one-third of pubs at present struggling to break even post-lockdown – leaving them without the cash required to pay the business rates bill in the new year. The trade association has said that such a situation could likely see thousands of pubs close at the last hurdle in their long road to recovery post COVID-19 lockdown. Such a large bill will force many to close because these huge payments will be due well ahead of a full recovery of Britain’s brewers and pubs as life hopefully returns back to normal. The trade association is therefore urging the Government to extend its pub sector relief on business rates for at least another year, as part of the Government’s ongoing review and with submissions due this week. According to the BBPA, extending the rate relief for pubs could save thousands of locals and provide worthy investment for the Government, saving tens of thousands of jobs and securing future tax revenue from pubs in the longer term, as well as preserving thousands of pubs that are the heart of their communities across the UK. Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Ending the Business Rates relief for pubs and handing them a bill of £800 million – an average of £25,000 per rate paying pub – could be the last straw for thousands of pubs. “Given that all these pubs made it through the lockdown – over 15 weeks without being able to open their doors – and have remained viable businesses despite social distancing and significantly lower footfall, it would be devastating for them to fall at the final hurdle in the post-lockdown recovery. “It would mean much of the Government’s vital support for the sector through lockdown would have been wasted. This is why we are asking the Government to extend the relief and help protect our great British pubs and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they support. “Investing in our pubs now will enable them to survive and thrive into 2021 and beyond, help lead the economic recovery and generate a larger tax revenue for the Government in the future.”
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: "This announcement came as a surprise, but it is clear that the Government are concerned about the recent rise in COVID cases. We need to fully assess the detail of the new restrictions when the Prime Minister speaks later today. As one of the few sectors participating in track and trace the pub sector has been fully playing it’s part in ensuring people follow guidance to contain the spread of the virus up to this point and we will continue to do so. "The impact of these new announcements can have a cooling effect on public confidence. This restriction comes at a delicate point in our pub recovery after a steady start this summer. We were already worried about levels of trade moving into Autumn and Winter. Pubs will need more support from Government with continued business rates relief, VAT cuts and flexible furlough, as well as a significant cut in beer duty to help them survive, protect jobs and continue to serve communities. We need the Government to send the clear message that pubs remain open for business and the public should continue to support them."