A lower rate of tax on beer served in pubs is among the idea suggested to help pubs thrive once lockdown begins to lift.
Consumer group CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) is urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide vital ongoing financial support for pubs, social clubs and breweries to help them cope with months of restrictions announced in the roadmap for England this week.
Without ongoing help many businesses may struggle to make ends meet, with 60% of pubs saying they won’t be able to open during the period when pubs can only serve people sitting outside. Pubs, social clubs and brewery taprooms also face reduced trade as a result of only being able to serve people at tables once inside space is allowed to be used.
The Campaign for Real Ale, which represents 170,000 pub goers and beer drinkers, has written to Mr Sunak calling for a cut in duty on beer sold in pubs and clubs to help them compete with alcohol sold in supermarkets.
Extending jobs support through the furlough scheme as long as restrictions on pubs apply, continuing the business rates holiday as well extending help with VAT to include alcoholic drinks in addition to food are also on pub goers’ wish list being put to the Chancellor.
Commenting, CAMRA National Chairman Nik Antona said:
“Whilst offering some light at the end of the tunnel, yesterday’s roadmap confirmed several more months of lockdown for pubs and the breweries that serve them.
“Many locals won’t be able to turn a profit with many not being viable to open at all whilst restrictions like outdoor-only space and the table service requirement are in place in the coming months.
“That’s why CAMRA are urging the Chancellor to make sure next week’s Budget commits to long-term, dedicated financial support for pubs, clubs and their supply chains as long as they aren’t operating at full capacity.
“As well as extending furlough and business rates holidays, our locals desperately need VAT to be reduced for both food and alcoholic drinks, with a cut in duty for beer served on tap to help our pubs compete with supermarkets.”
Notes to editors
Full text of the letter is as follows:
The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
23 February 2021
Dear Rishi Sunak,
I am writing in follow up to my letter of 21 January this year, which set out the measures to support pubs, clubs, brewers, and cider makers that CAMRA would like to see you announce in the Budget next month. Following the publication of the roadmap out of lockdown for England, I felt it necessary to write again to stress the importance of this Budget for pubs and brewers in England and across the UK.
Pubs matter to people that run them, the communities that cherish them and the brewers and cider makers that supply them. They will be part of the economic and social recovery from the pandemic, and central to the ‘Build Back Better’ agenda, but only if they can open fully and viably when we reach Stage 3 of the roadmap.
I will be clear – a reopening based on outside trading alone is not a proper reopening. Data from the British Beer and Pub Association suggests that 60% of pubs will be unable to open on these terms, and more will struggle to break even. We cannot ask consumers to celebrate a return to the pub when so many will remain closed, and others unviable.
First and foremost, it is imperative that the legal ability for some pubs to trade using outside spaces does not mean that financial support ends – grant funding and job support must continue to be available until all pubs can reopen fully, inside, and out. Similarly, financial and job support should continue as long as similar restrictions remain in place for pubs in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – even if that is longer than in England. I am hopeful that this is the continued financial support that the Prime Minister committed to during his statement to the House yesterday.
Secondly, a later date for the full reopening of hospitality than the opening gyms and non-essential retail makes it even more imperative that the business rates holiday and VAT cut are extended, to allow pubs, clubs, brewers and cider makers to thrive again when restrictions are lifted.
While it is great to see the end of curfew and the ‘substantial meal’ requirement, the Budget must focus on fiscal measures to get people back to the pub and help rebuild trade. The VAT cut needs to be applied to on-trade alcohol sales as well as food, and a lower rate of duty for draught beer should be introduced, doing this will help wet-led pubs which have suffered more than most through restrictions.
Finally, brewers and cider makers in England must have access to a supply-chain support package, as has been introduced in Scotland. Research from the Society of Independent Brewers has shown that 200 million fewer pints of craft beer were brewed in 2020, mostly due to the closure of pubs. This shows the importance of pubs the small brewing sector, and the importance of cask beer to pubs. This is vital to save breweries; and make sure that consumers have access to a range of great cask beer when pubs can reopen properly.
As always, CAMRA members – and all beer and pub lovers across the UK – want to support our community pubs, social clubs and the wider hospitality sector when they can all open viably. Until then, please listen to the calls from across the hospitality industry, show that pubs matter to the Government, and use the Budget to support licensees, brewers, and pub lovers.
CAMRA National Chairman
CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, is a not-for-profit consumer group with over 180,000 members that has been operating since 1971. Our vision is to have quality real ale and thriving pubs in every community.
Press release from CAMRA
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