Indie bars and breweries 'closures by Christmas' warning from SIBA as Harrogate gets to grips with new rules

The head of Britain's independent beer industry has warned there could be the widespread business closures of breweries and pubs by Christmas.

Thursday, 24th September 2020, 2:28 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th September 2020, 2:32 pm
SIBA's chief executive James Calder said: "Breweries have not had access to any of the business grants available to other hospitality businesses during Coronavirus and to avoid further business closures it essential that a targeted support package is introduced

Reacting to the Government's latest series of new Covid measures this week, James Calder, chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers, said the industry felt left behind by this week's announcements.

Mr Calder said: "The Chancellor’s announcement that a new job support scheme for people in work will be introduced from November is welcome and will protect jobs.

"However, it does not address the serious issues facing the brewing and hospitality industries which have been amongst the worst impacted by Coronavirus.

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"Without targeted support for the beer, brewing and broader hospitality industry, which has been specifically targeted by new restrictions, then we will see widespread business closures of breweries and pubs."

Concern in the indie drinks sector has been growing despite the easing of lockdown for the food and drink sector in early July.

SIBA, whose chairman is Ian Fozard, owner of Harrogate's Rooster's Brewery, had been calling for a comprehensive new package of measures including VAT cut extension to beer, rent support, business rates cuts and a cancellation of the planned rises in beer duty for small brewers before Boris Johnson's new Covid measures on Tuesday and Chancellor Rishi Sunak's latest emergency package today.

But the latter has left SIBA unimpressed, particularly over the failure to apply a VAT cut to alcohol.

Speaking today, SIBA's chief executive James Calder said: "Breweries have not had access to any of the business grants available to other hospitality businesses during Coronavirus and to avoid further business closures it essential that a targeted support package is introduced by Government.

"Equally, while the extension of the VAT cut for hospitality is welcome for many pubs, it does not apply to beer or alcohol sales, so is not available to wet-led community pubs which do not serve food.

"Breweries and wet-led pubs are once again being left behind by the Chancellor’s measures and without urgent support many will not survive the vital Christmas period."

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