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Future of pubs 'hangs in the balance' as sector pleads for help

26 November 2020 by
Future of pubs 'hangs in the balance' as sector pleads for help

The bosses of more than 50 pub and brewing businesses, including Greene King, Heineken and Marston's, have warned the sector faces collapse without further financial support.

The group has written to prime minister Boris Johnson in a letter published by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA). It warns the crisis facing pubs is ‘very real' and could lead to thousands of job losses and permanent closures without more government help.

"We cannot overstate how serious the situation facing our staff, communities and businesses is at this stage, the future of hundreds of breweries and thousands of pubs hangs in the balance," the letter reads.

It comes ahead of today's announcement of where individual areas will be placed in England's tier system when lockdown ends on 2 December.

All of hospitality must close in Tier 3 except for delivery and takeaway, while in Tier 2 alcohol can only be served with a ‘substantial meal' and there can be no household mixing indoors.

The BBPA has warned if two-thirds of England are placed in Tier 2 or 3, over 20,000 drinks-led pubs will be forced to close. It estimates this would result in nearly 250,000 staff being unable to work and at risk of unemployment, with a further 80,000 jobs at risk in the supply chain.

Pub bosses say they have spent thousands making venues Covid-secure and are being ‘scapegoated' despite a lack of hard evidence they are more responsible for outbreaks than other venues.

The group is calling for the government to publish any evidence to contrary in the interest of ‘openness and transparency'.

"We cannot stand idly by and allow these measures to destroy our businesses. We owe it to our staff and customers to ensure that these decisions are being made based on evidence," the letter said.

"There is no logic to this decision. Heading into what would have been our most valuable trading period, thousands of businesses are now facing total failure."

The group is urging the government to provide pubs with ‘more sustainable' grants for businesses of up to £12,000 a month for pubs with a rateable value of more than £100,000, as well as calling for an extension to the business rates holiday and hospitality VAT cut beyond March 2021.

"It would be nothing less than heartbreaking if, having survived through the last nine months, working tirelessly to put in place countless safety measures, pubs now face ruin with the end of the pandemic in sight," the letter adds.

"Moreover, the support the government has given us up to this point would all be for nothing, a colossal waste of resource only to end up in a much worse position than we were just a few months ago. The looming disaster is avoidable, but only if you act now."

Image: Shutterstock

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