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Catch up with the latest developments involving BII licensee support, taking member statistics to the heart of Government, and interviews with CEO Steven Alton.

Hospitality and pub industry leaders write to Prime Minister demanding support after roadmap delay

Trade bodies including BBPA, UKH and BII “bitterly disappointed” by delay which will cost pub sector alone £400 million.

Every day of critical summer trading lost for pubs is a step closer to business failure

The Prime Minister’s announcement today will undoubtedly impact heavily on your already fragile businesses. We have consistently communicated to Government, that a delay at any stage of the already cautious roadmap which restricts your ability to once again trade freely and fully, will be hugely damaging to our whole sector.

We are in no doubt that Government have all of the information that they need about the real danger for your businesses, and want to thank you again for your continued support in completing our surveys, as well as the anecdotal insight you have provided to your BII Team.


We knew that there was a chance that every step on the roadmap could potentially be moved, if the data supported it, but with nearly 50% of the UK now fully vaccinated, we will be demanding full and immediate clarity from Government around what data is needed to remove any restrictions for good. Your pubs, at the heart of their communities are built on the resilience provided by the summer months, boosted by sporting events, large scale family celebrations and being an essential part of the UK tourism offer. Put simply, every day of critical summer trading lost, is a step closer to business failure. Whilst many outside of the hospitality sector may perceive this delay as being a small price to pay, for your pub businesses, with 16 months of severe disruption & closure behind them, any further delay requires further and immediate support.


We continue to put pressure on Government to extend the short term support that can be provided to help minimise the effects that these restrictions have on your pubs. We have left them in no doubt that this is a perfect storm, as the pressure of the debts that have mounted over the course of the pandemic are now meeting the large number of costs coming back on line for your businesses head on. With rent, business rates for England and loan repayments all becoming due in the next few weeks on top of already heavy staffing costs and mounting losses, any delayed return to full and free trading MUST be met with further short term support.
You, our members, have been very clear on your priorities for business support. We have called for the following immediate measures and will continue to push for: 
  • Full business rate cancellation until April 22 for England, in line with the other devolved nations, 
  • Further extension of the VAT cut at 5% until next year, 
  • A targeted duty cut on draught beer served in pubs, and
  • Formal postponement of any form of Government debt, including Bounce Back & CBILS loans, as well as VAT payments.
Moving forward, I have been personally involved in meetings with Ministers about the ongoing support that you, our members, will need over the coming years to enable a full recovery of our nations’ pubs, those vital hubs in local communities that provide so much more than just a pint. Even without the delay, we know that the recovery of your businesses will be prolonged over many years, needing a long term plan to enable you to rebuild your livelihoods, whilst supporting local employment and providing the essential community service that has been missed so much over the last 16 months. We have seen the pent-up demand from customers desperate to return to their normal lives, but this delay and ongoing uncertainty will have far reaching consequences for every area of the hospitality sector, affecting the confidence of consumers, potential employees uncertain on the stability of jobs and essential investment in our viable businesses.
Critical to the recovery of our sector is the ability to simply trade free of restrictions and be able to plan for the future.

Steven Alton

"Step 4 of the Government's Roadmap is like our Euros... there's no prize for second place" - BBC Radio Derby

Chatting to Ian Skye of BBC Radio Derby, our CEO Steven Alton balances the excitement of the Euros and customers celebrating our "Summer of Sport", with the uncertainty surrounding Step 4 of the Roadmap.

Hospitality & Pub Sector’s ability to be at the heart of the recovery in jeopardy

Leading hospitality trade bodies, British Institute of Innkeeping, British Beer & Pub Association and UK Hospitality have written to the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to highlight the critical business impact of uncertainty surrounding the move to Step 4 of the Covid roadmap.

The letter outlines how that uncertainty is exacerbating workforce challenges, with workers unconfident that the hospitality and pub sector are a stable sector for careers. It also conveys the significant additional staffing costs incurred due to current restrictions such as table ordering and additional test and trace requirements.

Confirming that the sector remains passionate about creating accessible and skilled jobs across the UK’s communities, they explain that the sector’s ability to do this is now in jeopardy.  

Key points from the letter include:

  • One in four of our businesses, 26,500 venues, remain closed due to legal restrictions.  Those venues that are trading are doing so with significantly reduced capacity and are delivering revenues at 63% of normal pre-Covid levels. 
  • Each further month of trading at this reduced capacity reduces revenues by a further £3bn for the sector critically undermining the sustainability of our businesses and putting jobs at risk.  
  • The sector has seen closures of 12,000 hospitality businesses over the last year, 1 in 10 of restaurants and 1 in 5 of town centre casual dining and late night bars.

A spokesperson for the trade associations said:

“The Government is assessing potential risks around removing all restrictions on the 21st June and we urge them to follow their own roadmap, if the data supports it, and to allow the hospitality and pub sector to open free of restrictions.  

“We urge them to fully consider the significant risk that a delay would result in business failures and job losses in every community across the UK. Our members’ businesses are extremely fragile and only the dropping of restrictions and the extension of the business rates holiday in England until April 2022, will enable them to snap back at the heart of the economic recovery.”

The letter to Rt. Hon Rishi Sunak MP and Rt. Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP can be found here.

New Survey Launch: Trading, Support & Full Reopening

Closing on Monday 7th June 2021, our latest survey is set to bring the voice of BII members and the wider community of licensees straight to the heart of Government. We aim to bring the survey report straight to key decision makers ahead of the Step 4 Roadmap briefing. 

Click here to lend your voice to our survey

For those of you who have been able to open your pubs over the last few sunny days many have been given a much needed boost after a subdued start to May indoor trading. We fully recognise that even with improved trading that many of you are still struggling to operate profitability with both reduced capacity and significant additional staffing costs.

We now look ahead to step 4 of the Government roadmap on the 21st June and the potential lifting of all trading restrictions. We understand that for many of you this marks the first step of a long road to recovery. Throughout the pandemic we have taken your voice, our members, to those at the heart of Government. Weekly meetings with Ministers and officials have provided an opportunity to share the realities and priorities of your businesses to ask for the support that you need.

We are once again asking for your support with a flash survey to ensure we have the current status of trading, the reality of your financial position, the operational challenges that you are facing and the impact of operating with ongoing restrictions. We will use this insight to ensure that all involved with the decision making process ahead are in no doubt of what is needed to safeguard your pub businesses to be at the heart of our economic recovery.

We appreciate how busy you are right now so the survey has been designed to be completed in under 5 minutes.

The survey will be open until 10am on Monday the 7th of June, thank you for your support in completing it.

All of Your BII Team will continue to do all we can to support you and your businesses.

Steven Alton



APPBG Releases "The Future of Cask Beer" Report

MPs say urgent help is needed to save UK breweries and pubs. The report highlights the devastating impact of the pandemic on pubs and the wider hospitality sector, as well as sales of draught beer.

A new report, issued by the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG) of MPs, has called on the Government to deliver urgent support to save pubs and breweries. The report is released during a review of alcohol duty at HM Treasury which is expected to be completed during the summer.

The report, Caskenomics: Cask beer’s COVID crisis and the impact on people pubs and places, follows an Inquiry carried out by the APPBG and produced with evidnce from a cross section of more than 30 sector leaders. It notes that the pandemic has already brought about the closure of more than 2,000 pubs and breweries in the UK and has saddled both brewers and pub owners with enormous debts. Without intervention, the report warns, even more community pubs will soon be lost for good.

Commenting on the report, chair of the APPBG, Mike Wood MP, said:

“Brexit provides an opportunity for the Chancellor to charge lower duty rates on draught beers – it’s an opportunity we would urge him to consider! For instance, halving the duty on draught beer – a cut of 22p on an average strength pint – would be a £600 million shot in the arm to save our pubs and breweries.”

BII CEO Steven Alton added:

"The APPBG’s inquiry on the Future of Cask Beer clearly highlights how our nations’ pubs, and their unique attribute of cask beer, are in need of targeted support to protect their futures. Pubs and brewers in all communities need the certainty of trading fully and free of restrictions alongside economic support with the removal of business rates for the full year, an extension of the VAT reduction until April 2022 and an immediate targeted reduction in duty for draught beer in pubs.

"Kelly McCarthy, a BII Trustee, License of the Year Award (LOYA) winner and long standing member of the BII clearly explains why Government support is needed now."

(The full video is available at the end of this article)

Although pubs have now reopened, the report stresses that it is essential for the sector that the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown continues as planned but that even then, sales will not be get back to pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2022 at the earliest.

A key recommendation of the report is for the Government to reduce the tax burden on brewers and pubs through lower duty, VAT or business rates. For instance, the Treasury is urged to consider the merits of lowering duty on draught beers specifically, which are exclusively available in licensed premises and so have been uniquely hit by pubs enforced closure.

The plight of cask beer (or “real ale”) has been specifically highlighted in the report. Prior to the pandemic, the sector contributed 72,500 jobs to the UK economy. Due to its short shelf life, the lockdowns caused 87 million pints of beer, worth more than £300 million, to be poured away.

The enforced closure of hospitality during the pandemic created a sharp rise in duty receipts from wine and spirits bought from supermarkets and off-licences, and a significant decline in receipts from beer. Within the beer sector, cask ale was the hardest hit. Many brewers continued to brew and sell beer for shop-sale as filtered, kegged or bottled beer, keeping the overall sales decline to 18 per cent. For most cask ale producers, this was not possible, and sales fell by 72 per cent to the end of February 2021.

Mike Wood continued:

“The quintessential British pub has never been more vital to our communities than it is today, as we emerge from the dark isolation of the past 14 months. Unfortunately, in order to survive and thrive, the industry needs government to go even further in its support, extending and building on some of the measures introduced after March 2020.

“Supermarkets have flourished over the past year, with sales of wine and spirits soaring. But now we need to make sure that pubs and breweries come out of this fighting too.”

Without Government intervention, the report warns, declining cask ale production would have significant fallout for a number of reasons:

  • Many pubs are reliant on cask ales to draw in wider custom and tourism to the locality with wider benefits for local employment
  • Cask ales are typically relatively low alcohol beers, one of lowest alcohol choices on the bar
  • British hop farmers could go out of business
  • All cask ales are sold in returnable containers making it the greenest way to enjoy a beer.

In order to prevent the decline of pubs and the brewing industry, the APPBG report has made five specific recommendations:

  • Government to reduce the overall burden on brewers and pubs through lower overall duty, VAT and business rates and to urgently consider the specific merits of a lower rate of duty for on-sales of draught beers to encourage footfall back into pubs
  • Government must stick to the roadmap for reopening and run a public information campaign to restore consumer confidence that pubs are safe
  • Government to consider targeted COVID debt-forgiveness and measures to ameliorate the impact of crown debt
  • Industry to convene a working group to capitalise on the possibilities for cask beers as an environmentally friendly, locally focussed, premium and uniquely British product
  • Government to incentivise and/or support investment in the UK’s hop sector, to tide it over a period of unprecedented uncertainty.

The pub sector, the report says, could provide the answer to a number of problems caused by the pandemic like rising unemployment, especially among young people, and social isolation.

Kelly McCarthy, landlady of the Ye Old Sun Inn, Tadcaster and chair of the Yorkshire section of the British Institute of Innkeeping, said:

“In March 2020, it felt like our world had fallen apart. Now, the pubs need a cut in duty, to bring them back into the spotlight; to do that, we need the support of the government.

“It’s essential that the government presses ahead with the roadmap out of lockdown and plans for 21 June. How can businesses plan without that certainty?”

Andy Slee chair of Black Sheep Brewery said:

“Britain’s brewers and community pubs have had an especially tough time in lockdown.

“The Government investment in lower draught beer duty identified by MPs in this report is critical to ensuring that these British institutions can continue to invest in their futures, help protect jobs and allow these community assets to thrive for the good of us all.”

Click here to read the report

Watch the interview with BII Trustee Kelly McCarthy here

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