BBPA: Government Must Tackle Big Gaps In Support Facing Pubs And Brewers Over COVID-19

Trade association writes to Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to raise outstanding issues of concern to the beer and pub sector

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has written to Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pressing him to take urgent action in tackling the gaps in support facing pubs and brewers over COVID-19.

The BBPA has led calls for support for its sector since pubs were forced to shut down in March, and welcomes that the Government has listened, delivering decisive support in recent weeks that will go a long way in helping the sector survive.

However, thousands of the UK’s much-loved pubs and hundreds of its breweries producing world class beer have been ineligible for much of the support.

In light of comments from cabinet minister Michael Gove warning that the nations pubs would be ‘among the last’ to see restrictions placed upon them relaxed, the vital support needed for pubs has become even more critical.

In its letter, the BBPA has therefore urged the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to:

  1. Extend the Job Retention Scheme beyond June – helping to protect the almost 1 million staff employed in the sector
  2. Improve access to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme by underwriting 100% of loans
  3. Direct insurers to be fair and supportive when assessing insurance claims
  4. Put in place a special exemption for the 10,000 UK pubs with a rateable value over £51,000 to allow them to benefit from the Government’s grant scheme
  5. Defer April’s beer duty payment, and that for the following quarter, to ease the cash flow crisis facing breweries who saw 50-70% of their market value disappear overnight

The BBPA says these steps, if taken by the Government, would be a lifeline to keep those pubs and brewers afloat who have yet to receive support through the crisis, but will be the last to reopen when lockdown restrictions start to get lifted. This, it says, would enable them to re-open and serve their communities across the UK once the COVID-19 crisis has passed.

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, commented:

“We’re extremely grateful to the Government for listening to the needs of our sector and delivering the support they have given to pubs and brewers so far.

“There are still over 10,000 pubs which currently aren’t eligible for any Government grants. Even for those pubs that are eligible for grants, they can’t come soon enough. Brewers too need more support in the form of a duty deferral to free up much needed cash during this crisis.

“Pubs may have to remain closed longer than any other business, so it is imperative the Government tackles the gaps in support facing our industry.

“If the Government makes these interventions we are pressing them for, it will help keep pubs and brewers afloat, so they can re-open and serve their communities once more when we are through this.”