UK Pub Bosses In Desperate Bid To Reopen as Beer Sales Take £7.8bn Hit Forcing Closures.
UK pub bosses have demanded a date for when they can reopen as beer sales alone have taken a massive £7.8bn hit. The industry is desperate to get back to business after repeated warnings that many pubs will not survive the prolonged closures.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) is asking the government for a clear timeline and a “roadmap to recovery”. The government insists that it has a plan for re-opening the economy which it will reveal after 22 February.
The BBPA said trading restrictions and lockdowns knocked sales by 56% – worth £7.8bn – last year. In the first lockdown in the second quarter of the year, beer sales plummeted by 96%, it said. Even during the summer, which saw the Eat Out to Help Out scheme and a temporary VAT cut on food and soft drinks, pub beer sales fell 27%.
The BBPA said that unless pubs received more assistance, even once they were allowed to reopen with far fewer restrictions, thousands would fail and be lost for good as many had built up substantial debts during the pandemic.
Its proposed roadmap states that post-vaccination of the most vulnerable, pubs must reopen in unison with non-essential retail and other parts of the hospitality sector. It also says mandatory trading restrictions – such as alcoholic drinks served only with a substantial meal, no mixed households and the 10 pm curfew – should be removed when pubs reopen in a timely way.
Financially, it is pressing for an extension to the VAT cut and business rates holiday, as well as a significant cut on beer duty.
“There’s been a real lack of clarity,” said Dianne Irving, who manages three pubs in Carlisle. “It’s just really, really difficult to know where we are and where we are going. It’s very difficult to plan.” Beyond March, things will be “very difficult, financially,” she said.
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