‘Extended local lockdowns could destroy pubs and livelihoods’ says the BBPA and is lobbying government for business support if closure plans are enacted

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has today responded to reports that local, stricter lockdown measures could be placed on the North of England – forcing pubs and other hospitality businesses to close again. The trade association has said that the introduction of the rumoured local lockdown, as part of a new tiering system, in the North of England could destroy pubs there. It would be on top of what is already a very challenging period for the sector with the 10pm curfew and rule of six, plus service limited to tables, resulting in a huge reduction in consumer confidence.  The trade association is asking the Government for evidence-based, proportionate measures – calling into question the effectiveness local lockdowns on pubs will have in stopping the spread of the virus. It notes that no hard evidence has been given yet to suggest that pubs, with their strict adherence to Government guidelines, are unsafe, making it unclear if such blanket measures will make a major difference. 

However, the BBPA says that whatever the additional restrictions the Government decides to implement are, they must be accompanied by additional and adequate financial support from the Government too. This it says would be crucial for pub businesses who could be forced to close again, which would push many of them to breaking point and force them to lay off staff, write off stock and cover fixed costs with low or no revenue at all in a bid for survival.  

According to the BBPA, the Job Support Scheme set to replace the Job Retention Scheme in October was already not fit for purpose to save jobs. It certainly won’t protect jobs in pubs facing a local lockdown. It is urging the Government to act fast and pull together a comprehensive support package to ensure jobs are saved and pubs do not close their doors for good in communities facing a local lockdown. 

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Make no mistake, a local lockdown without immediate additional and adequate support will destroy many pubs.  “Our sector is already facing the 10pm curfew, rule of six, table service only and low levels of consumer confidence, meaning many are already struggling to stay open. A local lockdown would push many to breaking point – forcing them to close for good with countless jobs lost, impacting livelihoods and communities forever.  “We are still yet to see the hard evidence in England that blanket measures to lock down pubs, with their strict adherence to Government guidelines, will significantly stop the spread of the virus. Statistics citing that a proportion of people who test positive as having visited hospitality venues in recent weeks is not evidence in itself of greater risk. “What we do know is if pubs are closed people will gather in homes or outside to drink, where there are no social distancing measures in place or the NHS track and trace system.  

“As a result, we are calling on the Government for an evidence based, proportionate response that recognises pubs are a regulated and safe place for people to socialise in – part of the solution in managing COVID-19 and supporting jobs and the economy.  “If the Government is really going to press ahead with the introduction of further restrictions, it needs to ensure it puts forward an additional and adequate financial package of support for our sector.  “Quite simply, the Job Support Scheme is not fit for purpose to save jobs in businesses facing a local lockdown. Proper measures need to be taken, as they were in the Job Retention Scheme, if jobs are going to be saved. Grants will also be needed for businesses impacted by local lockdowns to survive this period.  “On top of this, our sector across the whole of the UK needs an extension to the VAT cut and business rates holiday, and substantial beer duty cut, if it is to have any chance of a recovery.”  

CAMRA thinks the First Minister’s announcement on further restrictions for Scotland’s pubs is absolutely devastating news for pubs and breweries.

Responding to the First Minister’s announcement for further restrictions for pubs, CAMRA’s Director for Scotland Joe Crawford said: “The First Minister’s announcement banning the serving of alcohol indoors for 16 days across the country – and forcing pubs in five health board areas in the central belt to close altogether – is absolutely devastating news for pubs and breweries. “Publicans who have been operating at reduced rates, and who have already invested thousands of pounds of their dwindling reserves making their premises COVID-secure, now face 16 days without any turnover whatsoever. Understandably, they feel like pubs have become the scapegoat for the pandemic.

“The £40 million in support for the hospitality sector is welcome and necessary but the devil will be in the detail. Without proper financial compensation now – and longer-term financial support to help deal with reduced trade as a result of restrictions like the curfew – we risk seeing thousands of pubs, clubs and breweries closing for good before Christmas

Over 100 hospitality businesses write to Prime Minister urging him to intervene to avoid the bleakest of winters

Over 100 hospitality businesses in the UK, including pub businesses, restaurant chains and hotel operators have written directly to the Prime Minister warning that he must personally do more to help them. In the letter to the Prime Minister, led by trade associations the British Beer & Pub Association, UKHospitality and the British Institute of Innkeeping, it says that without additional and urgent support many businesses will not “survive this bleakest of winters” and hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost. The letter states that even prior to the latest COVID-19 restrictions, half of all hospitality businesses did not believe they would survive beyond the middle of next year. It says that the latest restrictions – including the 10pm curfew – “have made this fight to survive even harder.” 

It calls on the Government to commit to review the appropriateness of the latest restrictions at least every three weeks, and to remove them if they are found to not be impacting the spread of the virus. The letter also says that if hospitality businesses are to survive and “lead the economic and employment recovery”, they need more Government support.  It states that the Chancellor’s winter support package “does not go nearly far enough for our imperilled sector.” It continues, “without an immediate review of the support on offer to pubs, restaurants and wider hospitality businesses, many will be lost for years to come.” 

The letter immediately calls on the Prime Minister to remove employer contributions for the hospitality sector to the Job Support Scheme and provide a package of grant funding for those businesses that face restrictions being brought forward. To plan and rebuild beyond the winter, it also says “the VAT cut and business rates holiday must also be extended through 2021 and beer duty cut.” In closing, the letter asks the Prime Minister “to intervene as a matter of urgency” and offers a meeting of sector leaders to help draw up a sector-specific support package to reflect sector-specific restrictions and  preventing “the devastating damage that is drawing ever closer.”   

Letter to Prime Minister: https://www.beerguild.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Hospitality-open-letter-to-PM-September-2020.docx

Support pubs now Rishi or you’ll be responsible for mass closures, job losses and hardship”: Publicans write open letter to the Chancellor

Britain’s publicans have written a powerful open letter to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, urging him and the Government to urgently support pubs or be responsible for mass closures, job losses and hardship.   The letter, organised by the Campaign for Pubs, the national grassroots campaign group representing pubs, publicans and pub-goers, expresses publicans’ dismay at the woeful lack of support from the Chancellor in his economic statement on Thursday, and points out that without further help many pubs now face imminent closure under new Government-imposed restrictions.

Publicans all over the UK are urged to add their name to the letter, which can be signed online here. The letter comes at the end of the first weekend of pubs operating with a 10pm curfew and mandatory table service, with most reporting significant drops in trade. Many publicans are now considering whether to close their pubs and either mothball them until after the restrictions end or to simply walk away altogether, especially with many pubs still facing large rent bills from uncaring and intransigent pubcos and commercial landlords.

The letter explains how, in the Chancellor’s statement this week, thousands of pubs that don’t serve food were given no help and support whatsoever, despite the fact that the 10pm curfew and table service requirement have both had a drastic impact on the viability of pubs. Both measures simultaneously reduce trade and increases costs, a disastrous double whammy on top of the three-month national lockdown, existing restrictions and additional local restrictions in some areas. The letter also points out that while the extension of the 5% VAT rate for eating out is of limited help to some pubs, it gives another huge boost to alternative big business hospitality venues, including fast-food chains like McDonalds and KFC and other chains, and it does nothing at all to help many of the pubs that need help most: smaller “wet-led” pubs, micropubs and taprooms, all run by small businesses and operating at the heart of their communities. The letter also points out that the new Job Support Scheme offers no help at all to most pubs, as on current trading figures many actually need more staff not fewer, and certainly could not afford to subsidise staff for not working.

The letter expresses publicans’ serious concerns at the latest restrictions imposed by the Government, with pubs all around the country reporting significant drops in trade, many to the point where they will have no choice but to close the doors to prevent further losses. There is real anger amongst licensees about the 10pm curfew, which has no scientific basis, but which makes it impossible for some pubs reliant on Friday and Saturday night trade to operate profitably. Many publicans and others have expressed the folly of such a policy, for which the Government has already been forced to admit it made no impact assessment and which has already been shown to have led to crowding on the streets and on public transport at closing time, and furthermore risks people turning their backs on the controlled environment of the pub and instead going to uncontrolled social gatherings in their homes or other unregulated venues. There is also anger that, with venues already having invested in physical infrastructure such as screens and other measures to keep customers safe, the Government has now insisted on table service, which not only makes many pub staff less safe but also increases staff costs significantly, something that most pubs simply cannot manage with the current levels of trade.

The letter calls for an urgent package of support for pubs, warning the Chancellor that if he doesn’t listen to UK publicans, he and the Government will be directly responsible for mass pub closures, job losses and hardship among thousands of families reliant on the pub trade. The measures being called for are:

  • 5% (or even better zero) VAT on ALL sales in pubs
  • Grants to cover full costs if pubs cannot viably trade due to the current restrictions and have to close temporarily
  • A business rates holiday extension, with a complete overhaul for business rates for pubs prior to recommencing
  • A statutory right to an immediate rent review for all pubs, to tackle the fact many pubs are facing wholly unreasonable rent levels, considering the Government restrictions and reduced trade

The letter lays out the stark reality that many pubs are better off closing due to the new restrictions, and highlights the unfairness of the fact that, despite his own Government imposing these restrictions, the Chancellor announced nothing to help pubs through this next six months.

“The UK Government has turned its back on pubs and publicans” Licensees fury as Chancellor fails to offer any support for imposing trading restrictions

The Campaign for Pubs, the national grassroots campaign to promote, support and protect pubs has expressed the dismay of thousand of UK pubs and publicans at the complete lack of support for thousands of pubs in the Chancellor’s statement today. Pubs represent the most iconic and unique sector of UK hospitality, yet despite claiming to “help hospitality”, the Chancellor today provided no support at all to many pubs, despite the fact that pubs are currently reeling from the announcements of 6 month extra restrictions including a 10pm curfew, which will increase costs while reducing trade, rendering many pubs unprofitable.

The Chancellor extended the 5% VAT rate for eating out and accommodation, which is some help to those pubs that also serve food and inns that offer bed and breakfast, however for thousands of small business wet-led pubs, including many iconic community locals, micropubs and taprooms, this was no help at all. Meanwhile, the Campaign notes, huge fast-food and restaurant chains, including the likes of McDonalds and KFC, once again received a huge boost. The Chancellor also announced the new Job Support Scheme, but this too is of limited or no benefit to many pubs. Some pubs have no staff (especially at the moment, with trade so reduced). Many tenant and freehold landlords are now running pubs entirely on their own, or just with their families, just to get through the Covid crisis. Even for pubs that do have staff, the problem now is in fact the need for more staff in spite of reduced revenue, so the scheme will be of no help at all with that burden.

The Government imposed restrictions that have come in today – 10pm curfew and mandatory table service – mean both reduced trade and additional costs for pubs – meaning many pubs already facing reduced trade due to the Covid-19 crisis become loss-making. It was hoped the Chancellor would realise and acknowledge this, yet instead wet-led pubs received nothing and even many pubs that serve food, will not receive anything like sufficient benefit to cover the impact of the new restrictions. Many pubs, especially in towns and city centres, are reliant on trade at weekends up to midnight or 1am, and without busy Fridays and Saturdays they are unprofitable, so the recent imposition of the 10pm curfew was a huge blow. The further requirement for table service only (which also puts publicans and staff at greater risk than service behind a screened bar) means that in all but the very smallest pubs, extra staff are needed, due to it not being possible for one member of staff to serve tables, the way it is to serve behind the bar.

Pubs were expecting help today to deal with these issues, but it was not forthcoming, and now the livelihoods of thousands of people are under severe threat. Furthermore communities everywhere now face the permanent closure of thousands of pubs, something which irrevocably and disastrously change the face of this country, its villages, towns and cities. The Campaign for Pubs is now asking members and licensees up and down the country to write to their own MP to call for support to support and save pubs – and urge the Government to wake up and act before many pubs are threatened.

British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) calls for long term support for pubs whilst long term restrictions are in place

‘Long term sector specific restrictions will need to be matched by long term sector specific Government support’ stated Steven Alton, CEO of the BII, in response to the confirmation of additional restrictions on pubs this week. (Details)

Writing to the Chancellor yesterday, he made the case for further investment to safeguard the future of our nation’s pubs. He reiterated the consistent message from the pub industry that a sector specific package of support will be required, including extension of furlough to prevent further widespread redundancies, a long term extension of VAT at 5% to encourage trading and a further payment holiday on business rates until 2022 to allow pubs to plan their recovery.

Alton stated “the impact of further restrictions on pubs who have delivered extensive changes to venues to protect their staff and customers has two key impacts;  restricting already significantly reduced levels of trade, with the majority of pubs not making a profit, and severely undermining critical consumer confidence.”

The BII’s over 9,000 members run pubs across the UK and are greatly concerned about their futures.

Quarter of hospitality businesses believe they could fail in next three months without further Government support

Pub and hospitality trade bodies the British Beer & Pub Association, UKHospitality and the British Institute of Innkeeping (British Guld of British Writers Reports) have unveiled new findings today showing that almost a quarter (23%) of their members think their businesses will fail by the end of the year without further Government support. The findings, from a survey of members of all three trade associations conducted by hospitality market research company CGA, revealed the high level of concern about the future of the pub and wider hospitality sector without further support from Government. This was before the latest restrictions for pubs, restaurants and the wider hospitality sector were announced by the PM earlier this week, including a 10pm curfew and table service only, which will only make the situation worse.

The survey also found that one in eight hospitality staff have already been made redundant, and that more sector jobs are expected to be permanently lost when the Government’s furlough scheme comes to an end in October. On average, businesses believe their workforce will be 25% lower by February 2021 compared to February this year – a decline of 675,000 jobs lost from the sector in a year. Only 7% of respondents said they were feeling optimistic about the prospects of the hospitality sector over the next 12 months, down from 23% in August and 19% in July when respondents were previously asked the same question. With such a gloomy outlook for the sector, exacerbated by the Prime Minister’s announcement earlier this week on further restrictions, the trade bodies have all called on the Government to take drastic action. They have urged the Government to immediately put in place a new sector-specific employment support package and to extend the VAT cut and business rates holiday for the sector. These measures, they say, will help pubs and hospitality businesses survive any further disruptions to their operations, enabling them to work towards a safe and sustainable recovery heading into 2021 and beyond.

Latest restrictions a “significant blow” to brewers and pubs who need more Government support

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has responded to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care’s announcement that several areas in the North East of England would be placed under more stringent restrictions, calling it a “significant blow” but reiterating that the trade remains committed to working with the Government to control the spread of COVID-19.

“Our sector has been one of the hardest and longest hit by the pandemic. Pubs and brewers have worked tirelessly to get pubs safely open and stocked since July so this latest announcement is another significant blow. “Our data suggests that a third of pubs are still struggling to even break even which indicates that we are at a very delicate moment in our sector’s recovery. Consumer confidence is already very fragile and extra restrictions will inevitably have a further cooling effect on that, not only in the regions where they are in effect but also nationally.

It is vital that the Government recognises the unprecedented challenges that pubs and brewers are facing at this time. We are calling on them to immediately put in place a sector specific furlough scheme beyond October, extend the VAT cut and business rates holiday and make a substantial cut to the punitively high rate of beer duty in the Autumn Budget. These measures will help brewers and pubs work towards a safe and sustainable recovery.”

Petition against tax rises on beer

Beer Duty is a tax paid when producing and selling beer, and is a calculation based on the ABV (alcohol by volume) of the beer. UK beer duty is already 3 times the EU average and the government plans to increase it, in line with RPI, every year for the foreseeable future. Pubs and breweries face a range of tax pressures, including Beer Duty, business rates and VAT. 41% of a brewery’s turnover is Beer Duty, and 43% of a pub’s turnover is beer sales. Simply put, any tax on beer is a tax on pubs. By writing to your local MP and signing the petition to cut the tax on beer, we can keep our local pubs communities, jobs and industries thriving.

Beer Tax Comparisons with some EU countries – Per pint of 5.0% ABV Beer: Germany 4.8p, Spain 5.1p. Belgium 12.2p, Netherlands, 19.3p, UK, 54.2p

Sign the petition