BBPA warns 2,000 pubs at risk of closure

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Make or break moment: BBPA urges calls for 'sustainable plan for growth' (Credit: Getty/mikedabell)
Make or break moment: BBPA urges calls for 'sustainable plan for growth' (Credit: Getty/mikedabell)

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Some two-thousand pubs could close without a "plan for sustainable growth" in the Chancellor's Spring Budget later this month, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has stated.

The trade body called on the Government to show it understands "the pressure" on the sector and claimed the upcoming Budget will be a “make or break moment” for many.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “It is crucial the Government shows in this Budget that it understands the pressures the sector is facing and just how much our pubs and breweries mean to communities everywhere across the UK.

“We urgently need the Chancellor to deliver a plan for sustainable growth with fair, modernised tax rates and a focus on skills and training needed to ensure pubs and breweries can thrive.”

Poor practice

The BBPA urged the Chancellor to freeze duty rates, implement a significant increase in the discount for draft beer sold in pubs, and introduce the previously announced reduced rate for lower-strength beers from 1 August.

Moreover, the association again pressed the Government to hold energy suppliers accountable for “poor practice”.

This comes as earlier this week, one West-Yorkshire based operator called for the Government to “step in” and “persuade” suppliers to renegotiate energy contracts after firms were “duped​” into agreeing to “inflated prices”.

McClarkin added: “After almost three years of extremely tough trading conditions due to lockdowns, an energy crisis, supply chain disruptions and more, now is a make-or-break moment to save our locals and breweries from failure now in the years to come, we need the Government to act now or risk losing​ something very special forever.”

Citing research from Oxford Economics, the BBPA also claimed on-trade beer sales could decline by 9% across 2023 and 2024, equating to 1m fewer barrels of beer ​sold (288m pints) and 25,000 potential job losses in pubs and the wider industry.

Rocketing costs

Additionally, the BBPA shared stories from operators across the sector, with some already forced to resort to candlelight or working in the dark to avoid using too much electricity while others stated energy suppliers had quoted 1000% increases to standing charge rates.

One such licensee, Anthony Pender, who runs the Somers Town Coffee House in north-London, claimed the pub’s January gas bill was £4,800 in comparison to £1,600 provided in Government support.  

He said: “Similar bills were generally around £800 prior to increases. Without relief and at full business rates we would lose money as a venue.”

Another operator to share their story was Keris de Villers of the Pig & Whistle in Wandsworth, southwest-London, who said in 10 years of running the pub she had never found it so difficult to turn a profit.

She added: “We got through Covid, but the cost-of-living crisis is worse. Costs on everything across our business from energy ​to ingredients have rocketed.”

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