The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has warned of a potential £7bn hit to the UK economy if the government fails to change its stance on pubs.
The claim comes as part of a new report with Oxford Economics, the forecasting and analysis consultancy, modelling the likely impact of Coronavirus on Britain’s brewing and pub sector.
The report, titled ‘UK Beer and Pub Sector: Coronavirus Scenarios Report’, models three scenarios on how coronavirus could impact the sector, based on different assumptions underpinned by data and insights from surveys of pub and brewing businesses.
According to the report, the “increasingly likely” scenario shows that more than 290,000 jobs will be lost, a third of the 900,000 jobs the pub and brewing sector currently supports.
Of the 600,000 people directly employed in pubs, 43% are held by people under the age of 25, meaning they would be most affected by such a cut to employment opportunities in the sector.
It added that if this situation were allowed to become reality, it would mean that the total economic output of the beer and pub sector in the UK would fall by 31%, or £7.4bn, while £3.9bn in wages would also be lost from the economy.
The BBPA said the scenario was based on assumptions informed by feedback from a wide range of pub and hospitality businesses in recent surveys. The evidence from which suggests that one in four pubs will close without more Government support and of those that do remain, 78% will only breakeven at best with a “significant decline” in beer sales.
The survey that informed the modelling was undertaken before the latest restrictions were introduced including the 10pm curfew and table service only, which the association said will only make the modelled scenario “even worse”.
As such, the BBPA has called on the prime minister to review the 10pm curfew at least every three weeks and remove it if it is found not to impact the spread of the virus.
Secondly, it said Boris Johnson must provide a “sector specific package of support” for pubs and hospitality that will protect their businesses so they can survive and fully recover once the epidemic has ended.
According to the BBPA, this must include an extension to the VAT cut and business rates holiday through 2021, along with a significant cut in beer duty, lockdown grants and removal of employer contributions for hospitality businesses to the Job Support Scheme.
Emma McClarkin, CEO of the BBPA, said: “This new evidence shows the Government must change tack by reviewing the effectiveness of restrictive measures like the 10pm curfew and providing a far greater package of financial support to save the pub and brewing sector.
“It would be inexcusable to allow more than 290,000 sector jobs to be lost with a £7bn hit to the economy, when it could be avoided with the right Government support to help keep pubs and breweries open. Protecting these jobs – many of which are held by under 25s – will also avoid the economy being hit by the loss of £3.9bn in wages alone.”
She added: “It’s important to remember that outside of the current circumstances our sector is a thriving one – and when this epidemic ends it will be key to driving the economic bounce back we will desperately need. For that to happen though the Government must invest in it now to ensure its still here to play that role.
“There is more to this than the economy and jobs though. Pubs are the heart of our communities and brewing in Britain is a key part of our heritage. Losing them would be a major loss to our culture and national identity that cannot be allowed to happen.”