Repayment of business rates relief should be used to create a vital lifeline for pubs and brewers
The British Beer & Pub Association, the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has today backed calls for the £2bn of business rates relief that supermarkets have repaid to be repurposed into a comprehensive relief package for Britain’s struggling pubs and brewers.
The trade association applauded the supermarkets’ decision, saying it could constitute the “vital lifeline” brewers and pubs need to ride out the punitive new restrictions that came into place this week, wiping out a huge proportion of trade in the most valuable of months.
The business rates relief, given to impacted sectors at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, was hugely important in saving thousands of pubs from closure. However, months of either closure or extremely tight restrictions on our sector have seen balance sheets across the pub and brewing sector reduced almost to breaking point.
As the money has been repaid by supermarkets it would require no new borrowing from the Treasury and would have no additional impact on the UK’s bottom line, giving the Chancellor an unexpected opportunity to give the sector some Christmas cheer. The woefully insufficient £1,000 per-pub payment announced this week can now be boosted and rolled into a complete overhaul of the existing grants system which has to date overlooked brewers and leaves English hospitality and supply chain businesses hugely disadvantaged relative to those in Wales.
The Government can also now look at extending business rates reliefs for pubs beyond the planned end point of March 2021, and extend this relief to brewers who have seen their most valuable trade channel decimated but have had almost no support throughout.
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:
“I want to thank the supermarkets for their civic-minded decision to repay this business rates relief. It is a recognition that some sectors have struggled more than others through the pandemic.
“For that reason, I am calling on the Chancellor to use his unexpected Christmas bonus to provide a vital lifeline for the UK’s struggling brewers and pubs. Our sector has been struggling under the weight of unfair restrictions for months, and there is no end in sight for us yet.
“Millions of pints of beer have been wasted as we have cycled in and out of lockdown at short notice this year, brewers’ turnover quite literally being poured down the drain.
“This week’s derisory £1,000 top up payment doesn’t plug the gaps but the Government now has the chance to put in place a proper, comprehensive support package for thousands of brewing and pub businesses, allowing them to continue to serve their local communities and help lead the much-needed economic recovery next year.”
William Lees-Jones, Managing Director, JW Lees brewery said:
“With £2bn coming back to Government from supermarkets and major retailers, we are calling for the Government to create a COVID Hospitality Recovery Fund. I already have strong interest from other industry leaders to join me in working with the Government to ensure the money gets into the hands of the businesses that need it most. This could be the salvation of the many hospitality venues and the critical supply chain businesses that have been forced to close through the pandemic and are now really struggling in tier two and three areas.”