With the right support, brewers and publicans could help drive the economic recovery of the UK, Chanellor Rishi Sunak has been told. To help the process, the Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) is calling for a cut to VAT and business rates, and to beer duty for brewers.

Despite pubs and brewing having been one of the hardest and longest hit sectors during the lockdown, and one of the highest taxed, it is trying hard to get back up and running as soon as possible, with the BBPA indicating that around 80% of member pubs will re-open in the coming weeks.

Pub trading levels in England this first weekend out of lockdown were low and will remain low and operationally unsustainable until consumer confidence fully returns, says the association. Without further significant and immediate support, many businesses will not be able to survive until then.

The BBPA has urged the Chancellor to take three steps in his stimulus package:

  • Cut to 5% the rate of VAT on food, drink, and accommodation in the hospitality sector
  • Extend business rates relief
  • Reduce beer duty by 25% over the course of the Parliament
beer in pub

BBPA chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said: “Covid-19 has hit our sector especially hard, but our brewers and pubs have a key role to play in getting the economy back on its feet and, crucially, boosting the nation’s morale.

“Our pubs and breweries want to play a leading role in the recovery. But we can only do that if we have the right help from the government. Especially as pub trading levels have started very low and will remain unsustainable for a long time until consumer confidence fully returns. In addition, our pubs and brewers face a range of punitively high taxes, with currently £1 in every £3 spent in a pub going straight to the taxman.

“The measures we have put forward are bold, but they are key to the future of communities across the UK and important British businesses. They are an investment for the future, not a cost.”

Emma added: “Cutting VAT, beer duty, and business rates would secure some 350,000 jobs. As a sector, 43% of those employed in our pubs are under 25 years old. So these jobs we’d save would ensure the life chances of our youngest are not permanently disadvantaged as a result of Covid-19.

“Pubs are inclusive and public spaces — they help bring people together from all walks of life. They are the backbone of our high streets and at the heart of our domestic and international tourism sector. To lose our pubs would not just be an economic or jobs disaster, it would also be the end of many communities. We want to use our heritage to restore a sense of national unity and belonging by ensuring pubs remain at the heart of every town, city, rural and coastal community.”

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