A business rates bill for £800m could be "the last straw" for many UK pubs, forcing thousands to close permanently with hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has warned.
With the relief on business rates planned to end in March 2021 and 'stage one' of the government's review into business rates drawing to a close this week, the industry body has called for a sector-specific extension to business rates relief for pubs, which face an average bill of £25,000 each, or risk closure.
BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: "Given that all these pubs made it through the lockdown – over 15 weeks without being able to open their doors – and have remained viable businesses despite social distancing and significantly lower footfall, it would be devastating for them to fall at the final hurdle in the post-lockdown recovery.
"It would mean much of the government's vital support for the sector through lockdown would have been wasted. This is why we are asking the government to extend the relief and help protect our great British pubs and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they support."
The trade body is calling on the government to extend its pub sector relief on business rates for at least another year in order to preserve thousands of locals, which are at the heart of their communities, and to secure future tax revenue from pubs in the longer term.
McClarkin added that investing in the UK's pubs now would enable them to "survive and thrive" into 2021 and beyond and help lead the economic recovery and generate a larger tax revenue for the government in the future.