The letter, signed by businesses including Greene King, Hall & Woodhouse, Youngs & Co, Shepherd Neame, Carlsberg UK and the The British Beer & Pub Association, states that pubs are being singled out ‘for exceptionally harsh and unjustified treatment’ and warns that unless the Government changes course, and soon, ‘huge portions’ of the industry will not survive past the spring.
The letter calls on the Government for more specific sector help and a more sustainable round of grants for pubs in line with the first lockdown to cover ongoing fixed costs. Pubs with a rateable value of less than £15,00 should be eligible for a grant of £3,000 per month, it says, while pubs with a rateable value of between £15,000-£51,000 should be eligible for a grant of £6,000 per month.
Pubs with a rateable value of between £51,000-£100,000 should be eligible for a grant of £9,000 per month, it adds, with those with a rateable value of more than £100,000 eligible for a grant of £12,000 per month.
“We know these are unprecedented and extraordinary times. We have sacrificed our businesses and stepped up to support the fight against Coronavirus every step of the way. Closing our businesses, investing millions to reopen them as COVID secure environments to ensure the British people had somewhere to socialise safely and reconnect with their communities again,” the letter reads.
“We also pioneered the development of the NHS Test & Trace system before it was fully operational - again at the Government’s request - doing our part to protect lives as well as livelihoods. This has come at a huge cost to us and the crisis facing our sector is very real.
Despite this reality, your Winter Plan, compounded by the Christmas announcement, have been greeted with utter dismay and incredulity by publicans up and down the country, and made the situation facing us exponentially worse. How can it be that people mixing in unregulated private homes is deemed safer than gathering in limited numbers in larger, regulated and ultimately Covid-secure venues like pubs?
“There is no logic to this decision. Heading into what would have been our most valuable trading period, thousands of businesses are now facing total failure and local communities unable to enjoy a drink and a meal in the perfectly secure environment of their local pub over Christmas."
According to new research from Lumina Intelligence, £14bn will be wiped from the pub sector this year because of the pandemic, with the UK pub market expected to contract by 61% this year, from £23bn in 2019 to just £9bn.
The letter goes on to point out that pubs have invested tens of millions of pounds in making their venues Covid-secure and that evidence from Public Health England indicates that pubs are far less of a risk than many other environments.
It points out that if two-thirds of the country were in tiers 2 or 3, more than 20,000 drinks-led pubs would either be forced to close or close because they would be unviable, resulting in nearly £1bn in lost turnover in December alone and a quarter of a million pub workers being unable to work and at risk of permanent unemployment.
“It is clear that pubs are being scapegoated despite a lack of available evidence that they are any more responsible for outbreaks than other types of venue.”