The government has been criticised for lack of clarity in today’s unveiling of the ‘road map’ to deal with the Covid-19 lockdown.
Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said her sector “remains in limbo and facing severe uncertainty and financial devastation”.
She said: “Despite this, the government hasn’t outlined any specific additional financial support for pubs to assure and help them through the extended lockdown hardship they face. We understand that pubs should only open when safe to do so, but extending the lockdown without offering additional support will be devastating.
“Our own research shows that 40% of Britain’s pubs won’t survive beyond September with the current level of financial support on offer from the government. That’s almost 19,000 pubs that won’t re-open.
“The government must understand that the current financial support they are providing, although welcome, does not go anywhere near enough to cover pub’s costs through an extended lockdown. This is before we even consider an eventual re-opening, inevitably with vastly reduced revenue due to stringent social distancing restrictions in place.
“Without this specific additional financial support, the social hubs and heart of communities in many towns, villages, and cities across the UK will be lost forever, resulting in immeasurable damage to the wellbeing of our nation. Our clear and urgent ask to the government is that they recognise the real jeopardy facing the great British pub and put in place targeted measures now to save it, or risk losing local pubs forever.”
The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) welcomed the prime minister’s speech, but noted that there was still “a huge amount of time” before pubs could re-open.
Chief executive, James Calder, said: “In that intervening period our sector requires continued direct support from government to ensure that the 1 million jobs in pubs, brewing and supply chain are preserved.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we continue to be at the core of discussions with hovernment about how our heritage, our culture, and our right to have a good pint in a good pub is maintained for the long term.
“We will, of course, not put any pressure on government to open pubs and taprooms ahead of when it is safe to do so. But we will put pressure where it is needed to ensure our sector has a fighting chance of survival.”
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) urged the government to enhance and extend the support package for the hospitality industry to ensure jobs are protected, and businesses are in the best position to re-open when allowed.
National chairman Nik Antona said: “The package needs to be extended to brewers, cider producers, and others in the hospitality supply chain. The £51K rateable value ceiling on pubs receiving grant support also needs to be lifted, to help the 10,000 or more businesses currently unable to access support.
“Local authorities need to be encouraged to ensure the flow of grants is quick and easy for businesses to access. Landlords and pub companies need to cancel rent during the period turnover remain at a fraction of usual.
“The government must recognise that even when allowed to re-open hospitality businesses will be operating at hugely reduced trade. The support package needs to be extended beyond re-opening and transition funding should be made available to help pubs, bars and producers start up again. There needs to be an immediate relaxation of licensing laws to allow all businesses to seek revenue from off-sales for delivery and/or safe collection by customers.”
He added: “We’re very concerned at the suggestion that while cafés and restaurants with outdoor space will be allowed to re-open, pubs and bars which could enforce the same social distancing measures will not. The government needs to clearly explain the science and reasoning behind this, and ensure these businesses get additional support if prevented from reopening.”
Des Flanaghan, co-founder of Pub Aid, pointed out that the continued closure of venues means “that the £140m raised by pubs for charity and grassroots sport each year will be severely diminished in 2020”.