Pubs & Brewers Welcome Scottish Budget; Now The Chancellor Must Deliver

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) has welcomed the budget delivered by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes to Holyrood this afternoon. The budget includes a three-month 100% relief to business rates, which could be extended if the funds are made available from Westminster.

The SBPA and British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) have now called on the UK Government and Chancellor Rishi Sunak to similarly stand up for the sector by ensuring that a business rates holiday remains in place, the reduction in VAT is extended and includes a cut in alcohol, and a cut in beer duty – which remains amongst the highest in the world.

Commenting, CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association and the British Beer & Pub Association, Emma McClarkin, said:

“This is a strong budget by the Finance Secretary and certainly will help support Scotland’s pubs and brewers through these unprecedented times. The business rates support in the form of a three-month cancellation will provide a degree of certainty for our members and help many businesses whilst the pandemic is still ongoing.

“In order to ensure a strong and recovery this needs to be further  extended to the full year and it’s welcome that the Finance Secretary made clear that further support will be available dependent on the Chancellors budget in March. Now, the industry has their eyes on ensuring the support for the sector is replicated and boosted by the UK Government.

“We therefore urge the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to extend the Business Rates holiday for pubs and brewers across the rest of the UK. Businesses across the country are facing a cliff edge when the rates holiday ends in March. They need reassurance now, in this third lockdown, that the Government still has their back and is invested in them – as the Scottish Government has done.

“Brewers and Pubs are vital to Scotland’s economy, jobs, and culture. Whilst the support contained within this budget is hugely welcomed, it remains a long back to profitability for these businesses. The UK Government must provide the additional support and certainty needed to ensure business survival until the end of the pandemic.”
The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) also welcomed the announcement,
but the trade body has warned that it doesn’t go far enough. Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, said: “Today’s announcement is good news, as is the promise of further ongoing business support – it gives us a much-needed stay of execution. The reduction in the poundage rate, from 49.8 pence to 49 pence – is also very welcomed.

“However, further support from the Westminster Government is crucial and our hope is that UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak steps up to the mark by extending the current furlough scheme, committing to retain the commercial rates relief and the temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT for hospitality beyond March 31 and well in to 2022.

“Our sector is battered and bruised – and the sooner both the Scottish and UK Governments can provide clarity on support and an indication of an exit strategy out of this pandemic the better. Our pubs, hotels and restaurants are at breaking point and need support now”.