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27th November 2020

New tier restrictions will cause carnage to pub sector unless the Government steps in now

BBPA says over 30,000 pubs in England will either be forced to remain closed or be rendered unviable due to 99% of the country being placed under tighter tier two and tier three restrictions   

The British Beer & Pub Association, the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has today revealed that tighter tier two and tier three restrictions being placed on almost every English region as announced today will have a devastating impact on over 30,000 pubs – four in five pubs in England.  

The trade association has said that 16,454 pubs will be forced to close as they are in tier three regions. Of the 21,091 pubs that are in regions classified as tier two, 13,920 pubs will either remain closed because they don’t serve substantial meals, or will be financially unviable due to the impact on revenue of the additional restrictions, including no household mixing and only serving alcohol with meals.   

Despite the perilous position pubs find themselves in, the Government is not providing sufficient support to them, the trade association says. At present, grants for pubs are as low as £1,300 a month – not even enough to cover basic fixed costs. This, the BBPA says, means many will be forced to close unless the Government changes its approach, or provides them with the level of grants they need, like it did during the first lockdown. 
The sector is so dismayed by the Government’s approach that last night over 50 brewing and pub businesses, representing 20,000 pubs and accounting for over 90% of the beer brewed in Britain, wrote to the Prime Minister to outline the mass closures of pubs his decisions will bring, unless he changes his approach.  

The letter states that pubs are “clearly being singled out for exceptionally harsh and unjustified treatment” and that unless the Prime Minister “changes course, and soon, huge portions of this most British of institutions will simply not be there come the Spring.” 

It goes on to say that publicans up and down the country have met the Winter Economy plan with “utter dismay and incredulity”, stating that “pubs are being scapegoated despite a lack of available evidence”. This also has a devastating impact on the brewers that are reliant on them. The letter calls for the Prime Minister to publish evidence justifying the extra restrictions placed on pubs, or if not, reconsider them.  

The letter says that if the Prime Minister remains committed to his “course of action, forcing pubs to pay the price of relaxed restrictions elsewhere”, he must also recognise that pubs need more help and deliver grants of up to £12,000 per month to cover their fixed costs. 

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

 “With 99% of the country under tighter tier two or tier three restrictions, there will be carnage unless the Government acts immediately. Pubs face full closure if they are drinks led or in tier three. We need the Government to recognise the impact of these restrictions and urgently provide more financial support.  

“We cannot overstate how serious the situation is currently facing our staff, communities and businesses. The future of hundreds of breweries, thousands of pubs and tens-of-thousands of jobs hangs in the balance. The focal point of countless communities in every region of the UK could be lost forever, the social consequences of that do not bear thinking about.” 

 Ralph Findlay, Chief Executive of Marston’s, said:  

“In early July, we were credited for having opened safely and responsibly. Since the end of September, the UK Government has leaked, launched, and layered a labyrinth of legislation on pubs, and pubgoers and our employees are paying a heavy price. This latest plan smacks of the fog of politics, and the Prime Minister has lost his way.” 

Nick Mackenzie, Greene King Chief Executive, said: 

“The winter plan is another crushing blow for pubs and we have been unfairly singled out with punishing and unjustified restrictions that will make pubs across the country unviable through the most important month of the year. There is no clear evidence to show why it’s safe to have a meal and a drink in a restaurant, or mix socially behind closed doors at home over Christmas, but you can’t have a pint in a pub.  

 “The industry has invested millions of pounds making their premises covid secure and closure costs us millions of pounds every week. We ask the government to urgently reconsider these disproportionate measures, such as banning the sale of alcohol in Tier 2 unless it’s with a substantial meal, and work constructively with the hospitality sector to find solutions and deliver tailored support before it’s too late, especially for drink-led pubs. 

“Pubs are the heartbeat of communities and play a key role in combatting loneliness and isolation which is even more important as we head towards Christmas.”  

William Lees-Jones, Managing Director of JW Lees, said:  

“We are feeling very disappointed by the government’s current attitude towards pubs, especially when we have made our pubs safe places to be with investment and training. We are bearing the financial brunt of the Winter Plan, with all of JW Lees tenants paying no rent, beer stocks built up ready for Christmas and pubs ready to re-open next week.   

“We expect reasonable compensation from government since the current grants and furlough support in no way make up for the pub sector being sacrificed at our busiest time of the year.  We estimate that the current proposed measures will cost JW Lees around £2 million which is 1/3 of a normal year’s annual profits owing to the timing of the restrictions.”   


Notes to Editors  
Letter sent to Prime Minister attached

Press release from the BBPA

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