More than a third of UK pubs cannot break even after a month of opening, according to a survey conducted by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

Emma McClarkin
BBPA chief executive, Emma McClarkin

Social distancing and other safety measures mean that pubs have less capacity to serve customers. Likewise, consumer confidence to go out and visit pubs is still returning.

According to the BBPA, this is affecting the viability of re-opened pubs, particularly in city centre locations, where many offices remain closed, meaning even greater reduced footfall.

The BBPA has welcomed initiatives such as Eat Out to Help Out and the VAT cut to food and accommodation in hospitality and pubs to help boost the sector, which it hopes will have a positive impact on sales in August.

However, it says further support is needed for the pub and brewing sector in the medium and longer term to enable them to fully recover.

It also says the government needs to play its part in helping build public confidence to go out and visit pubs and hospitality again, with consistent and positive messaging about their re-opening.

‘Our sector is a resilient one, but 25% are struggling’

Chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said: “£1 in every £3 spent in a pub goes to the taxman, and now is the time to reinvest that money in our brewers and pubs. That means cutting beer duty by 25%, as well as making the VAT cut permanent and extending it to beer in pubs, to bring the cost of a pint down and unlock investment. 

“Fundamental reform is also needed of the business rates system — pubs pay 2.8% of the business rates bill, despite accounting for just 0.5% of turnover.

“Crucially, the government must play a leading role in building public confidence to go out and visit pubs again, by delivering consistent and positive messages about their re-opening.”

Emma added: “Our sector is a resilient one, and 75% of brewing and pub businesses say they are sustainable at present, but that still leaves 25% that are struggling, and it would be catastrophic for our culture and economy if they are denied the support they need. 

“Now is the time to recognise and invest in our pubs and brewers to secure them for future generations and to enable growth.”

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