Measures in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s first Budget have been broadly welcomed by the brewing and pubs industries.
Key points from the speech were:
- A freeze in beer duty
- Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less to pay no business rates for 12 months
- Pub specific rate relief to climb from £1,000 to £5,000
- Results of the small brewers’ relief review to be announced in the spring
- A full review of the alcohol duty system
- Statutory sick pay for employees affected by coronavirus in small businesses to be paid for by the government, for up to 14 days
- Grants of up to £3,000 available for businesses hit by coronavirus
James Calder, chief executive of the Society of Indpendent Brewers (SIBA), said: “The UK’s pubs and small brewers are likely to be some of the hardest hit by Coronavirus. So we are massively relieved to see the package of measures announced by the Chancellor to support us today.
“With a freeze in beer duty, the government has shown it is backing Britain’s independent brewers, pubs and drinkers. Independent craft breweries are at the heart of our communities, creating local jobs and supporting the economy. They’ll be plenty of raised glasses toasting the Chancellor’s decision this week in our towns and cities, and in Liverpool, where the UK’s brewers are gathered together this week for our conference, BeerX.
“Increasing pub rates discount from £1,000 to £5,000, and abolishing business rates for all small businesses below a rateable value of £51,000 will make a huge impact for our sector. Freezing fuel duty, coupled with a global drop in oil prices, will also mean making those deliveries in the brewery van remain affordable.”
On the small breweries relief review, to be announced in spring, he added: “The results of the long-awaited SBR review will be announced later in the year, with a wholesale review of all alcohol duties in the summer. Small brewers need certainty so they can plan for the year ahead. We need positive reform of SBR, much like we’ve had positive support today, to allow that to happen.”
Nik Antona, chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said: “Against the backdrop of industry fears on coronavirus, it is good to see the government has continued to recognise the value of pubs to the economy and society by freezing beer duty in the Budget. Brewers and pubs companies must now pass any savings on to consumers.
“We feel the decision not to implement a preferential rate of beer duty is a missed opportunity and will use the upcoming review of alcohol duty to continue to make the case for this, as we believe this is the best way to support community pubs.
“The abolition of business rates for pubs with a rateable value under £51,000, and the £5,000 discount for those with a value up to £100,000 is great news for qualifying pubs, and we are glad that the Treasury has listened to our calls for action.
“The announcement of a review of the business rates system is welcome, and this must happen as soon as possible so that we can fix the root issues with this unfair system and save our pubs from extinction.”
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “Pub -goers across the UK will be toasting the Chancellor tonight for freezing beer duty. This freeze alone will save pub-goers £80 million and secure 2,000 vital jobs across the country.
“Eighty-two per cent of the beer we drink here is brewed in the UK, so this is a very welcome decision that will help pubs and brewers across the UK. Cheers to the Chancellor!
“At the beginning of the year we welcomed the government’s decision to cut business rates for the UK’s smallest pubs by £1,000. It is great to see the Chancellor listen to our calls to take this one step further by increasing the relief to £5,000 for pubs with a rateable value up to £100,000.
“The announcement that pubs with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will not pay their rates over the next financial year is an enormous boost. For pubs who already pay little or no business rates, a £3,000 small business relief grant is available, which 14,000 pubs could benefit from. In total, the additional business rates support announced for pubs is worth over £190 million.
“Pubs pay 2.8% of rates despite accounting for only 0.5% of rateable turnover across the country. Such reliefs are vital until the fundamentally unfair system is overhauled. We therefore welcome the call for evidence on business rates reform announced today, commencing in the spring.
“Following the extensive review into small brewers’ relief, we welcome confirmation that the government will publish its results in the spring. We hope the government’s response will recognise the long-standing distortions caused by the current structure, whilst supporting growth among brewers of all sizes.
“Overall, this has been a great Budget for pubs, pub-goers, and Britain’s world-class brewing industry, worth £270 million. We hope the government continues to support our industry in the future, recognising the vital role it plays in our communities and lives across the UK.”