The British Beer & Pub Association, the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has revealed that just 27% of pubs in Britain – that’s 12,600 – have opened their doors once more.
In a survey of its members by the BBPA conducted earlier this week, pub operators also suggested that their pubs could close again as soon as this week if they are unviable opening under the new tier two restrictions.
The BBPA says the findings highlight just how much the pub sector expects to be unviable under the new tier restrictions and will be in place for the foreseeable future.
Research by the trade association also unveiled shows that pubs in England will receive three times less financial support than pubs in Wales.
The average grant payment a pub will receive in England over the next six weeks will be £3.4k, whereas an initial analysis of the package announced by the Welsh Government on Monday suggests this would be £11.3k for pubs in Wales in compensation for the tighter restrictions coming into force there.
Some pubs in Wales, based on employee numbers, will be eligible for considerably more than this and yet in contrast, the total that pubs in England are eligible for, following yesterday’s announcement, is between £3k and £5.5k over the same six-week period.
The BBPA says this shows how ‘meagre’ the Prime Minister’s one-off £1k payment to pubs is. It says unless the tier restrictions change, the Prime Minister needs to provide both pubs and the breweries that supply them in England with far greater support like that being offered to those in Wales.
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said, “Just 27% of pubs in Britain – that’s 12,600 – will be safely welcoming back customers through their doors.
“Of course, these pubs are looking forward to warmly welcoming customers and their communities back once more. It is just a shame so few of them are allowed to re-open and make a good go of it under the harsh new restrictions they now face.
“For those pubs that are reopening, some fear they could close again as soon as this week because they expect trade to be so low.
“Having invested £500 million in safety measures to ensure they are Covid-secure, it is ridiculous so many of our pubs are being forced to remain closed unfairly.
“It is clear the meagre £1,000 one off payment for pubs this Christmas isn't going to be anywhere near enough to save those who simply cannot open or are completely unviable because of Government restrictions.'
McClarkin ended, “Pubs in Wales rightly look set to receive at least three times more in grant support than pubs in England. This is a closer reflection of the real level of costs that pubs will incur under these tight restrictions this Christmas. The Prime Minister’s £1,000 one-off payment is an insult to pubs on their knees in England. He can and must do better.”
Phil Whitehead, Managing Director, Western Europe, at Molson Coors Beverage Company and Chairman of British Pubs Association, said, “We are staggered and disappointed by the measly measures announced by the Prime Minister. These pale in comparison to the devastating hit that pubs across the UK are suffering as they are forced to shut their doors during their most important time of the year.
'There is a complete lack of evidence that pubs are responsible for driving transmission, but the government is still preventing the British people from safely enjoying one of life’s simple pleasures – a pint in their favourite pub.
“We are one of the great beer-producing nations, a manufacturing success story with more than 1900 breweries of all shapes and sizes, and our hospitality sector is the envy of the world. But we’re now facing a pivotal moment.
“The beer and brewing industry supports 1m jobs in the UK and contributes £23 billion to the economy as well as being the focal point of many local communities. This is an innovative and dynamic industry that can play a crucial role in helping the country recover from the impact of the pandemic. But the government’s refusal to properly support the sector is putting tens-of-thousands of jobs and hundreds of communities at risk.'
Whitehead concluded “We need to immediately see a meaningful package of support that truly reflects the financial hit that pubs are being forced to take. We also need to see the government give us as an industry the confidence that we will be able to build for the future by committing to an extension of the 5% VAT rate to all drinks sold in pubs as well reducing the punitively high beer duty rate.”