Pubs and Bars

Covid-19: Government must tackle gaps in support facing pubs and brewers

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has written to secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, pressing him to take “urgent action” in tackling the gaps in support facing pubs and brewers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The BBPA said it 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, it said thousands of the UK’s pubs and hundreds of its breweries have been “ineligible for much of the support.”

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

In its letter, the BBPA has therefore urged Sharma to:

  1. Extend the Job Retention Scheme beyond June – helping to protect the almost one 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 said 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, CEO of the BBPA, said: “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.”

She added: “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.”

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