BBPA finds 40% of pubs won’t survive beyond September without Government help

As speculation increases that pubs will be the last to re-open from lockdown, British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) urges Government to do more to ensure they survive – with new research showing thousands of pubs will close without more support.

Some 40% of Britain’s 47,000 pubs won’t survive beyond September, unless they get more support from Government to get them through the COVID-19 lockdown.

The findings, from a survey by the BBPA of its membership, would mean that nearly 19,000 of the UK’s 47,000 pubs could stay closed permanently without greater Government support.

The findings come as speculation begins over the Government’s ‘un-lockdown’ plan and roadmap, where it is speculated pubs may not open until as late as the end of August. If so, this would make the bleak results of the trade association’s survey a dangerous reality.

Members of the trade association were asked to identify up until which point during the current lockdown would their businesses, or significant parts of it, be unable to survive at the current level of Government support provided. 40% said that this would happen by the end of September, for some much sooner.

The stark numbers mean that with the current level of support from the Government and the possible late August re-opening of pubs, that across the wider sector, 18,800 pubs won’t survive and be able to reopen.

Such a situation would be devastating to the iconic and world-renowned British beer and pub sector, resulting in the loss of 320,000 pub jobs in regions across the UK. The social hub and heart of the communities of many towns, villages and cities across the UK would also be lost forever – resulting in immeasurable damage to the wellbeing of much of the population.

As the Government begins to unveil its lockdown plans, the British Beer & Pub Association is urgently calling on it to give pubs all the support they need to get through their prolonged lockdown.

It is also calling on the Government to recognise that pubs will need additional specific support to survive as they are allowed to reopen too, ensuring their businesses are commercially viable while they have to operate under social distancing restrictions that will inevitably reduce revenues significantly.

BBPA says the Government must:
• Extend its grant support programme for pub businesses throughout the lockdown of pubs and the early stages of reopening
• Raise the threshold for the grant support scheme above the £51,000 rateable value, so 10,000 more pubs can access grants
• Extend the Job Retention Scheme for pubs beyond June and throughout their lockdown, as well as operate a specific ‘back to work scheme’ for pubs and breweries, to help protect 900,000 jobs
• Start to consider the fiscal measures needed for the longer term sustainability of our sector such as reduced VAT rates for the hospitality sector and further support on beer duty.

The Government must understand that pubs and brewers are facing a huge weekly cash burn without any revenue at present, as the grants and job retention scheme payments only cover a proportion of costs.

Emma McClarkin, BBPA's Chief Executive, said, “Nearly half of the UK’s pubs could close unless the Government does more to help them. For the sake of communities and jobs across the UK – as well as the very institution of the great British pub – the Government cannot allow that to happen.

“Nearly 19,000 pubs are at risk and 320,000 jobs too. If the Government takes decisive action now to properly help pubs both through the current lockdown and when social distancing restrictions are in place, then these pubs and jobs can be saved.

“Pubs are losing cash fast. The Government must understand that the current financial support they are giving, although welcome, does not go anywhere near enough to help pubs in an extended lockdown or when they can reopen under social distancing restrictions.

“Our ask to the Government is clear, recognise the real jeopardy facing the great British pub and act now to save it, or risk losing many locals and their communities forever.”