BBPA warns PM pub Industry will be lost in days without immediate action

In light of Boris Johnson’s announcement where he advised people not to go to pubs, the British Beer & Pub Association has sent a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to take urgent action to save the industry.

Dear Prime Minister,

UK Pub Industry will be lost in days without immediate, decisive government action

The UK pub and brewing industry is tonight facing an existential crisis as a direct result of the guidance issued by the government today. Thousands of pubs and hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost in the very short term unless a proactive package creating cash and liquidity is provided immediately to the industry.

Today’s Government guidance advising that people avoid pubs did not provide any form of advice or clarity on how the industry should respond. This is unhelpful in the extreme. At the same time the absence of any financial commitment to stand behind all businesses including small community pubs is creating panic with people being fearful that their livelihoods will be destroyed.

We urgently require more clarity from the Government. The Government’s advice without the required clear directive impacts on both the safety of the general public and all employees.

Forced pub closures without a meaningful support package will have a catastrophic financial and social impact.

Pubs are the heart of the community and the social hub in all towns, villages and cities across the UK. The sector supports almost a million jobs across the country, many in less affluent areas. These jobs are in imminent danger, companies will be required to act this week regarding redundancies. The social and economic value that the sector provides to the UK is under existential threat.

The announcements in the Budget last week are now irrelevant in the context of the challenges the industry faces tonight. In order that our sector can confront this devastating scenario, we would ask that the Government takes the following actions immediately as a matter of urgency in order to prevent mass job losses and permanent pub closures:

• The cancellation of all business rates payments for a period of six months, as well as all HMRC tax payments, including PAYE, VAT and corporation tax for pubs/hospitality businesses
• Cancellation of beer duty payments for a period of six months
• Ensure banks are encouraged to extend credit lines and favourable-terms loan payment holidays to keep businesses afloat/pay wages
• Put in place a temporary redundancy scheme in which, as in the Danish system, the Government commits to supporting 75% of the wages of those made redundant for a defined period
• In the medium term, explore the viability of a substantial VAT cut for a period of time in order to drive trade back to the hospitality sector
• Postponement of the planned National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage increase due in April in order to ease pressure on cash-flows

I cannot emphasise strongly enough how critical it is that action is taken now. Failure to do so will destroy the industry and measures taken to support these businesses should be seen as an investment in securing the future of urban and rural communities across the country as the British Pub remains at the heart of social cohesion.

The industry is already working closely with their own managed house teams and their tenants to provide additional support where possible but there is a limit to what they can do, and they do not have the resources that will be required. Hence the urgent need for all of the support that is outlined above to be provided now.

It is critically important that the industry is now closely consulted on any further decisions taken that impact pubs. In light of today’s announcement please can you arrange for a member of your team to contact me urgently on emcclarkin@beerandpub.com to confirm what measures will be put in place to back up your commitment made in the government press conference this evening to help our industry at this desperate time.

Yours sincerely
Emma McClarkin
Chief Executive

(image: @BorisJohnson)