Pubs have re-opened after government closure as village shops ensuring locals can get basic foods and essentials. Many are providing hot food and ale for collection as well as other alcoholic beverages. Lets do all we can to support these local initiatives and maybe post Covid-19 some aspects may remain, particularly during the day. It appears that pubs that normally provide meals are continuing to receive kitchen supplies and some ales and selling them on for the time being, including non food items. Will this be a renaissance of the village shop where they have closed in the past? We hope so.
The British Beer and Pub Association is calling on the Government for further urgent interventions to keep pubs from closing, amid fears that thousands could collapse this weekend. Despite initial government relief, pubs urgently need liquidity measures in order to pay wages and prevent thousands of pubs from closing, with the subsequent loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.
An open letter to Rishi Sunak from the industry outlines that while the government has offered some initial relief to pubs, the current package does not address the immediate cash flow pressures they are facing. Without immediate and decisive action to create cash and liquidity, thousands of pubs will be unable to pay staff wages and could be forced to close this weekend, before the initial government relief ever reaches them.
As a priority, the British Beer and Pub Association is asking that the Government underwrites at least 75% of wages for all pub and brewing staff, enabling employers to pay staff during this period of uncertainty. It is estimated this would cost the government £1billion.
In addition, the British Beer and Pub Association is asking for the Government to cancel Excise Duty and VAT payments that pubs are due to pay on 25th March and 31st March respectively. This will enable pub operating companies across the country to redirect much needed cash directly into their businesses, helping to prevent closures and save jobs.
The industry is also urging the government to begin immediate distribution of the £10,000 and £25,000 government grants announced on 17 March, or underwrite them, to positively impact pubs’ cash flow. The industry also requires the government to underwrite all insurance costs for business interruption for a period of at least 3 months for the pub sector. This money must be given to insurers now or directly to businesses, to prevent thousands of pubs from closing permanently.
British Beer and Pub Association CEO, Emma McClarkin commented, “Pubs are in a crisis today. We need urgent intervention from the Government to prevent a catastrophic number of job losses and the sector damaged beyond repair. We recognise as a sector that we are in unprecedented times. We are prepared to play our part, but whilst we welcome the measures outlined so far by the Government, they do not deal with the immediate cash flow and liquidity crisis our industry faces now’. She continued, ‘As a sector, we stand ready to work with the Government on saving jobs and finding a solution. However, as a sector we cannot stress enough that the Government has just 24 hours to create a pub specific package to prevent irreversible closures and job losses. We have outlined to the Government the rescue package that is needed and stand ready to work with them to make it happen”
Following Government advice to avoid pubs and other social venues during the Coronavirus outbreak, CAMRA has partnered with the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and Crowdfunder to help pubs, clubs, breweries, taprooms and cider producers during these difficult times.
The #PullingTogether campaign aims to publicise innovative ways that pubs, breweries, cider makers and taprooms are staying afloat, such as by launching a new online shop, offering beer or cider takeaways or providing redeemable gift vouchers for locals. It also hopes to put the public in touch with local initiatives in their community.
CAMRA is inviting pubs, brewers and cider makers to get involved, the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) is encouraging independent breweries to sign up, and Crowdfunder is helping these pubs and breweries tap into their community for financial help to weather the crisis.
Pubs, brewers and taprooms can submit initiatives by visiting www.camra.org.uk/pullingtogether/ – an online platform where the public can also visually search for initiatives near them.
CAMRA is also concerned about the impact of social isolation and distancing at a time when people need it most, and has also set up an online Facebook group for the public called Pulling Together for Pubs, Pints & People , where it hopes to host virtual pub quizzes, beer o’clock and other virtual events.
CAMRA’s National Chairman Nik Antona said: “These are unprecedented times in the brewing, cider and pub industry, and it is now that we all have to pull together to help keep the UK’s producers and pubs afloat.
“We want to connect people with pubs as well as beer and cider producers in their area so that they can purchase great beer or a hot meal locally, rather than relying on the supermarket. This could end up being a real lifeline for people who are unable to get a delivery slot and could help ease some of the stress and burden of self-isolating during these troubling times.
“Pubs and breweries need our help now more than ever – without a strong show of support from local communities, many are destined for permanent closure.”
SIBA’s Chief Executive James Calder said: “This is the single biggest threat to the beer and pubs industry in a lifetime and we are doing everything we can to help pubs, independent breweries, and supplier companies weather the storm and come out the other side. We are delighted to be working with CAMRA on this cross-industry campaign and would encourage every brewery in the UK to get involved and engage with people in their local area keen to support them. Independent breweries are embedded in their communities and keeping that link between people and their local brewery taproom or pub during the Coronavirus outbreak is hugely important.”
CAMRA will also be working with Crowdfunder to promote opportunities for the brewing and pubs industry to tap into local funding during the period of crisis to tide them over. The idea is simple, breweries and pubs that will be suffering from closure and drastically reduced trade about their future can set-up a Pay it Forward campaign offering customers the option to pay for pints, meals and tickets now, which can be redeemed in the future.
Rob Love, Founder and CEO of Crowdfunder explains: “This is a really difficult time for everyone and there are lots of different things people are worried about including their jobs. One thing people can do, if they can afford it, is support local businesses. Through Pay it Forward, we are committed to throwing Crowdfunder’s resources behind keeping business alive through this crisis.”
To find out more, visit www.camra.org.uk/pullingtogether/ or search on social media using the hashtag #pullingtogether
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Following the Chancellor’s announced measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, please find below comment from CAMRA’s National Chairman, Nik Antona:
“The Government’s announced measures to mitigate the devasting impact of COVID-19 do not go far enough in ensuring no pub, club or brewery goes out of business as a result of the current crisis.
“While a business rate holiday for all hospitality businesses and rate relief for eligible pubs will help alleviate some costs, this will do little to compensate for the potential collapse of cashflow in businesses which customers have been told to stay away from. Making loans to businesses with no money coming in and multiple overheads to meet through a period of no, or low trading, is simply kicking the can down the road.
“We would urge additional measures to cover all liabilities, however long the restrictions on pubs, to ensure these vital businesses can emerge unsaddled by debt and able to deliver the many benefits to the communities they serve.”
We recognise as a sector that we are in unprecedented times and are prepared to play our part, but whilst we welcome the measures outlined today, they do not deal with the immediate cash flow and liquidity problems our industry faces.
“Local Authorities paying out grants to pub businesses is welcome, but how quickly these are administered is critical to keeping pubs in business and employees in jobs beyond the coming weeks.
“The rates relief announced for pubs is welcome in principle, but we urgently need greater clarity on the detail. Such relief provides little comfort for pubs that have no income.
“Without an urgent cash injection our sector will need to reduce its biggest cost, labour. It also won’t be able to take advantage of the planning changes proposed by Government today enabling pubs to help feed the nation through delivery.
“The Government literally has 24 hours to put together a pub specific package to prevent irreversible closures and job losses. The pub industry stands ready to work with the Government to create the rescue package that is needed.”
For more information, contact Nick Lawrie [email@example.com]
Commenting on announcements in the Budget, CAMRA Chairman Nik Antona said:
“Against the backdrop of industry fears on Coronavirus, it is good to see the Government has continued to recognise the value of pubs to the economy and society by freezing beer duty in the Budget. Brewers and pub companies must now pass any savings on to consumers.
“We feel the decision not to implement a preferential rate of beer duty is a missed opportunity and will use the upcoming review of alcohol duty to continue to make the case for this, as we believe this is the best way to support community pubs.
“The abolition of business rates for pubs with a rateable value under £51,000, and the £5,000 discount for those with a value up to £100,000 is great news for qualifying pubs, and we are glad that the Treasury has listened to our calls for action.
“The announcement of a review of the business rates system is welcome, and this must happen as soon as possible so that we can fix the root issues with this unfair system and save our pubs from extinction.”
110 brewers have signed an open letter calling on CAMRA to end its use of discount vouchers and criticising its refusal to debate the issue at this year’s Annual General Meeting.
The signatories are from breweries all over the UK and include many brewers of CAMRA-judged award-winning beers, including national champion beers. More breweries are coming forward in support.
They say CAMRA’s current policy undermines real ale and pushes drinkers to corporate chains, to the detriment of smaller pubs. They say the current policy imperils small breweries and many independent freehouses.
In the letter, they say: “…it is dangerously inconsistent for CAMRA to promote real ale as the pinnacle of the brewer’s art while simultaneously making it the cheapest beer on the bar. Inevitably, new drinkers will be led to have little regard for the quality of real ale. The policy also undermines CAMRA’s public image, as it promotes that which it was established to overhaul: a limited range of beers from large breweries, served-up cheaply by pub chains.”
The Bell Inn in Aldworth, Berkshire scooped the top prize after judges praised its strong community focus, relaxed ambience and great beer. The only pub in Berkshire with a Grade-II listed interior, it last won the coveted Pub of the Year title nearly 30 years ago to the day.
Yesterday, MPs from across the political divide called on the Chancellor to back the 250,000 supporters of the Long Live the Local campaign and cut beer duty at the upcoming Budget. MPs supported the campaign in a Westminster Hall debate on taxation on beer and pubs, secured by Mike Wood MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group.
Over 50 MPs from all parties and nations of the United Kingdom attended the debate. They spoke in support of fairer tax treatment for the sector in order to boost British brewing and pubs. In response, Treasury Minister Simon Clarke MP recognised the challenges facing the sector and undertook to ensure that the views were heard inside the Department. Later in the evening around 40 parliamentarians joined the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group for a reception to celebrate beers of the UK.
Whilst the debate was taking place the British Beer and Pub Association called on the Chancellor to support the beer and pub sector with its Budget submission. The submission highlights the important economic contribution of the beer and pub sector with 900,000 people relying on the industry for work. Nationally, the sector adds nearly £23 billion to the economy, paying £13 billion in taxes. The submission also highlighted the unfairness of the current excise duty regime, UK beer drinkers pay 54p in beer duty on every pint (5% abv) – eleven times higher than beer duty in Germany and Spain, and that beer drinkers have put £250m more into the Treasury coffers following two beer duty freezes. Ahead of the upcoming Budget the BBPA is calling for a cut in beer duty and wholesale reform of business rates.
In the debate Mike Wood, Conservative MP for Dudley South said: “Beer duty remains much too high. It is much higher than in any other major beer-producing country in Europe. In fact, someone who bought a pint in each of the five other major beer-producing countries—Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Poland—would still have paid less duty on those five pints than they would on a single pint in Britain.”
Marie Rimmer, Labour MP for St Helens South and Whiston said: “I also call on the Government to implement a modest cut in beer duty so that we can help our local pubs.”
Sarah Atherton MP, Conservative MP for Wrexham said: “A few years ago, I owned and ran a microbrewery, so I know some of the difficulties facing breweries, including the fledgling Magic Dragon brewery in Wrexham. I urge the Minister to support the cut in beer duty.”