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Chancellor’s plan doesn’t go far enough to protect pubs and jobs

British Beer & Pub Association responds to Chancellor’s Winter Economy Plan

The British Beer & Pub Association, the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has today responded to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Winter Economy plan.

Commenting on the plan, Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: 

“Following the additional restrictions announced earlier this week and their devastating impact on the already precarious situation our sector is in, we were really hoping for a strong package of support today. Some elements of the Chancellor’s plan today are welcome, but do not go nearly far enough to save the thousands of pubs and jobs that we have highlighted are at serious risk.

“The VAT cut extension on food and soft drinks will help our sector and it is great to see the Chancellor answer our urgent call for this. However, the extension is only for six weeks and only takes us through to the end of the current restrictions – it needs to be much longer to help our sector recover.

“Furthermore, where those pubs and bars that are not food focused are concerned, the Chancellor has missed a golden opportunity to extend the VAT cut to include alcohol.

“The new flexible job support scheme is needed considering that the furlough scheme will end next month, but with a lower level of funding from Government that will cost employers more, we are not confident it is enough to protect jobs in the current trading conditions. We will need to closely monitor the effectiveness of this scheme with our members and invite the Government to work with us if changes to the scheme are required.

“As brewing businesses are also greatly impacted by the curfew and the tighter restrictions pubs now face, they need more support too. With no direct support for them in today’s announcement, it is imperative that a beer duty cut is top of the list for the Chancellor at the next Budget, which would greatly help wet led pubs too.

“It is very concerning to see the Chancellor not extend the business rates relief for pubs. Pubs now face a cliff edge come March 2021 where they will have to pay on average £25,000 each per rate paying pub. That’s a cost of £800 million to the sector which will be the final straw for many pubs. We need the Chancellor to review this and extend the business rates holiday as a matter of urgency.

“Increasing access to Government loans, and extending the lengths to pay them back, will help some pubs, but for many, taking on further debt in the form of a loan isn’t even a viable option – particularly at this stage.

“We need the Government to recognise that consumer confidence is fragile and the additional restrictions that could be in place for a further six months will only make this worse. We are asking them to consider ways they can help boost consumer confidence including running the successful Eat Out To Help Out scheme again and offering sector specific grants for pub businesses.”

ENDS

For more information, contact nlawrie@beerandpub.com

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