Grahame Morris MP has made representations to the Chancellor on behalf of small breweries, raising the concerns of the sector about the effects of the pandemic.
The pub sector, which contributes more than £20 billion to the UK economy and supports 900,000 jobs, has been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic. In the letter, MPs state that ‘with the closure of pubs, bars and restaurants in March, small breweries lost 80% of their business overnight,’ and, despite some venues staying open for takeaways and deliveries, the industry has still seen a massive loss in revenue. It has been announced that pubs will be among the last venues to fully reopen.
Small breweries have not been eligible for the support that the government has provided to pubs and the wider hospitality, leisure and retail sectors. They have not qualified for business rate holidays or the £25,000 grant. Moreover, despite breweries experiencing a sudden collapse in sales and not receiving direct financial assistance, they have continued to be liable for HMRC beer duty payments and other business costs. MPs are calling on the government to do the following:
1. To provide an urgent injection of support and allow them to brew again, the Government should halve beer duty bills for all British owned independent brewers based on the rate paid last year for the rest of this financial year. The direct support already provided to pubs and the hospitality sector should also be extended so small breweries receive business rate relief and grants. This direct injection of cashflow will protect and secure the thousands of jobs in brewing and the supply chain.
2. So that independent brewers can bring staff back to work and support the thousands of local jobs in the sector, the Government should provide fully flexible furlough. Breweries also need prompt payments to keep them afloat with a secured 30-day payment term from customers.
3. Beer production has been at a record low during this crisis so HMRC should take account of this in its duty calculations and give brewers extra time to pay (60 days rather than 30 days) and secure the sustainability of our small breweries through positive reform of Small Breweries’ Relief.
The Easington MP said, “It is vital that we articulate the concerns of small breweries, who have not received the same support as the wider hospitality sector during this crisis. I fully back the calls for the government to provide support in order to protect jobs and allow the industry to get back on their feet as soon as possible.”