Thousands of Scottish pub jobs ‘hang in the balance’

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

On the line: there have been warnings that change is needed after a survey estimated up to 12,500 jobs could be at risk in Scotland's pubs and bars.
On the line: there have been warnings that change is needed after a survey estimated up to 12,500 jobs could be at risk in Scotland's pubs and bars.

Related tags: Scotland, Legislation, Health and safety, Entertainment, Bbpa

Pubs in Scotland desperately need measures to protect the thousands of jobs on the line, a leading sector voice has said.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association has urged Government to reverse a ban on background music and television noise in addition to changing tax policy.

Her comments came after a survey by by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) estimated up to 12,500 jobs were at risk in Scotland's bars and pubs.

Grim reading

The association said nearly nine in 10 venues were experiencing reduced revenue and almost half (45%) believed trade would not return to normal until a vaccine for the virus was released.

“These survey results make for grim reading and show pubs in Scotland need Government to adopt a series of policies that secure the future of our trade,” McClarkin said.

She also argued for an immediate lift of the ban on background noise in pubs​, which the Government said helps to prevent aerosol transmission of the virus.

“This recent change has had a devastating impact on our pubs with hard evidence to show it has reduced trade week-on-week since its introduction. It must be reversed by the Government before it is too late,” McClarkin continued.

Pub operators have said they would be willing to work with authorities to regulate the volume in their venues within a decibel limit.

Empty feeling venue

Aberdeen operator Martin Farmer recently reopened one of the two bars he runs after five months of closure and described the lack of atmosphere without noise. 

"Although it was great to have guests back it was odd to have in a venue with no music," he said. "Both of our venues are small and can now only sit 36 people under the current guidelines at the one time.

"The lack of people allowed in the venue coupled with no music makes an empty feeling venue which really doesn't make it appealing to the guests.

"People like to go to venues to enjoy themselves and use it as a sense of escapism, without an atmosphere, what's the point? The ban in music will 100% impact our venues.”

Fundamental change

What’s more, the Scottish Beer & Pub Association said the country’s brewers and pubs needed “to see a fundamental change to the disproportionate tax burden they face”. 

“Unfair business rates and excessive beer duty mean £1 in every £3 spent in a pub goes to the taxman, McClarkin said.

“Greatly reducing the tax burden our pubs face would go a long way in securing their future, and I urge anyone reading this to sign the petition calling on the Government to reduce beer duty and support our local pubs at the Long Live The Local’s website.

"Thousands of jobs hang in the balance."

Related topics: Legislation

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