Small breweries join forces in call for Government support
More than three hundred small independent breweries have signed a letter by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) to the Prime Minister, calling on him to commit to “proper support” for the sector which has been decimated by the Covid lockdowns in 2020.
Small breweries have faced harsh restrictions on their businesses over the last year and saw sales plummet by an average of 80% during lockdown but have not received much of the support given to the wider hospitality sector.
Added to this, the Government is planning a tax increase for brewers via its planned changes to Small Breweries’ Relief (SBR) – the scheme that revolutionised brewing in the UK and made it viable for small businesses to compete against the Global beer companies.
James Calder, SIBA Chief Executive, said: “Over three hundred small breweries coming together to write to the Prime Minister will we hope convey the depth of feeling from the independent brewing sector that it has constantly been overlooked, but more so that it is imperative this Government acts now or risks setting the British brewing industry back a decade with widespread business closures.
“The hugely important Christmas period has been a joyless one for brewers, as the vast majority of their market is closed yet there has been no compensation and little support forthcoming.
The Prime Minister needs to make it his New Year’s resolution to help small breweries, secure the future of one of Britain’s most successful manufacturing industries and deliver an urgent package of direct support for small independent breweries.”
SIBA is calling on the Prime Minister to firstly, extend the hospitality support to cover small breweries, including the Business Rates holiday; Secondly, compensate small brewers for the millions of pints that have to be thrown away when pubs are forced to close; and finally to scrap the proposed changes to Small Brewers Relief to create a sustainable future for the industry.
The letter has been delivered to the Prime Minister and asks ‘Please make it your New Year resolution to assist those who have missed out on Covid support this year: Our small independent breweries.’
It also highlights the symbiotic relationship between small breweries and pubs and that breweries did not receive the Business Rates holiday, £25,000 hospitality grant, or direct support in the VAT cut or Eat Out to Help Out schemes, both of which excluded alcohol including beer.
The letter comes following the Scottish Government pledging £1.8million for small breweries in Scotland, and in Northern Ireland, business rates holidays have been extended to manufacturers - policies which SIBA argues could and should be mirrored by the UK Government.