All brewers in the UK must get the same support as that offered by Scottish government to avoid closures and job losses. That’s the view of the leading associations representing the industry and beer drinkers.
The chief executives of trade associations, representing companies who make 95% of the beer in the UK, have joined forces with the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which represents nearly 180,000 beer drinkers, to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Welsh and Northern Irish finance ministers, calling on them to extend support for the brewing industry.
CAMRA chief executive, Tom Stainer, said: “The Scottish government recently announced a targeted £1.8 million fund to support Scottish brewers though the lockdown. This imaginative move will save many Scottish business and jobs.
“We urge the other governments in the United Kingdom to introduce similar support for their brewers. This model can be taken ‘off the shelf’ and implemented quickly.
“This help is vital to save breweries, to allow them to re-open their businesses, and make sure that consumers have access to a range of great cask beer when pubs can re-open.”
James Calder, chief executive of SIBA (the Society of Independent Brewers), added: “Two breweries a week are already closing and many more are on the brink of failure. Brewers have had to destroy 83 million pints of beer (worth £341 million) when pubs were closed for the three lockdowns.
“Despite the enormous negative impact of the lockdown on the brewing supply chain, most brewers have not received the generous support offered to pubs. The vast majority of brewers have not benefitted from business rates relief, grants or the lower rate of VAT for food and soft drinks sold in hospitality.
“Without adequate support, there is a very real threat that hundreds of breweries will close their doors for ever.”
This view is supported by Rick Bailey, chairman of the Independent Family Brewers, said: “UK brewers support over half a million jobs, from the farmers growing malting barley and hops, to the brewers themselves and the landlords of the pubs that play such a vital role in our communities.
“We contribute £19 billion to the UK economy and generate £10.4 billion in tax. It’s not just in the interest of brewers and beer lovers to save this brewing success story, it will be vital for protecting jobs and securing government’s tax receipts as the economy starts to recover from the pandemic.”
And Emma McClarkin, chief executive of British Beer & Pub Association, added: “With about half of the beer consumed in the UK being sold in the on-trade, brewers have been hit exceptionally hard by the closure of UK pubs during the lockdown. Sales of beer in UK pubs were down by a staggering 56% in 2020 compared with the previous year.
“We had a thriving brewing scene before the pandemic and we can look forward to a similarly bright future, but only if governments help us through this crisis.”