MPs are today calling on the Chancellor to remember the UK’s vibrant independent brewing sector as the nation focusses on when, and how the pubs will open.
The Covid-19 crisis has seen sales amongst the UK’s craft brewers drop 82% and seen around 65% of the UK’s breweries ‘mothball’ their operations.
14 MPs from across the political spectrum have signed a joint letter to the Chancellor in support of the campaign issued by Ben Everitt MP, the Member of Parliament for Milton Keynes North and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA). Dozens more MPs have raised the campaign directly with the Chancellor on behalf of breweries in their constituencies.
To give the UK’s brewers a fighting chance of survival the letter calls on the Chancellor to halve beer duty bills for all British owned independent brewers based on the rate they paid last year. It also calls for the business rates grants and holidays offered to the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors be extended to breweries up and down the UK. MPs argue that this direct injection of cashflow will protect and secure the thousands of jobs in brewing and the supply chain.
While the Government has introduced significant financial measures during the Covid-19 crisis, the UK’s 2,000 small independent brewers have not received the same level of help as pubs, bars and restaurants, despite being some of the hardest hit.
With beer production at a record low this year because of the pandemic, the campaign also calls for HMRC to take account of this in its duty calculations and give brewers more time to pay what they owe. Brewers would also like to see prompter payments to keep them afloat with a national standard secured 30-day payment term from customers.
And to secure the sustainability of the sector, the Chancellor is being asked to positively reform Small Breweries’ Relief, which has been under review by the Treasury since 2018.
Chief Executive of the Society of Independent Brewers, James Calder said: “There are around 2000 small independent brewers in the UK, and nearly every Member of Parliament has at least one brewer in their patch creating great beer and employing local people. If the Chancellor were to enact what we are calling for, we have a fighting chance of survival. Without these reforms, thousands of skilled jobs in breweries and in the supply chain will be lost.”
Member of Parliament for Milton Keynes North, Ben Everitt MP said: “Small independent brewers are at the centre of our local communities, supporting jobs and the economy and many MPs recognise the important role they play. With Covid-19, the industry has been devastated by the sudden closure of pubs but brewers have not received the same level of financial support from the Government. Without immediate assistance now and longer term measures there is a danger that many brewers won’t be able to reopen or survive into the future. Opening pubs is the focus of Ministers right now, but ensuring we have quality, local beers to drink in them when they open should also demand our attention. ”