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BBPA urges Sunak to cut VAT and business rates

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has uged Rishi Sunak to cut VAT, business rates and beer for brewers and pub businesses as they begin their “long and slow road to recovery after lockdown”.

The trade association said its sector could, with the right support, help drive the economic recovery of the UK after the Covid-19 lockdown. 

The BBPA said despite pubs and brewing having been one of the “hardest and longest” hit sectors during the lockdown, and “one of the highest taxed”, it is trying hard to get back up and running as soon as possible, with BBPA members indicating that around 80% of their pubs will reopen in the coming weeks.

It said while the sector has reopened in England, it still faces a difficult road to recovery. 

As pub trading levels this first weekend out of lockdown were low and will remain low and operationally unsustainable until consumer confidence fully returns. 

The BBPA added that without further significant and immediate support, many businesses will not be able to survive until then.

The BBPA is urging the government for a 5% cut in the rate of VAT on food, drink and accommodation in hospitality would boost pubs and the brewers that supply them, and signal to consumers that the sector is open for business. 

Also, the trade organisation is asking Sunak for extended business rates relief alongside a 25% reduction in beer duty.

Emma McClarkin, CEO of the BBPA said the outbreak of the coronavirus has hit the sector “especially hard”, but it’s brewers and pubs have a “key role to play in getting the economy back on its feet and, crucially, boosting the nation’s morale”.

She said: “Our pubs and breweries want to play a leading role in the recovery. But we can only do that if we have the right help from the government. Especially as pub trading levels have started very low and will remain unsustainable for a long time until consumer confidence fully returns. 

“Cutting VAT, Beer Duty and Business Rates would secure some 350,000 jobs. As a sector, 43% of those employed in our pubs are under 25 years old. So these jobs we’d save would ensure the life chances of our youngest are not permanently disadvantaged as a result of Covid-19.”

She added: “Pubs are inclusive and public spaces – they help bring people together from all walks of life. 

“They are the backbone of our high streets and at the heart of our domestic and international tourism sector. To lose our pubs would not just be an economic or jobs disaster, it would also be the end of many communities. We want to use our heritage to restore a sense of national unity and belonging by ensuring pubs remain at the heart of every town, city, rural and coastal community.”

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