Rishi Sunak Spending Review: Pub and beer bodies attack CSR as ‘missed opportunity’ to save businesses

Naomi Ackerman
·3-min read
<p>Breweries said they are seeing closures </p> (Getty Images)

Breweries said they are seeing closures

(Getty Images)

Associations representing Britain's pubs and breweries have criticised Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Comprehensive Spending Review, saying it missed an opportunity to save jobs and businesses in the sector.

The Chancellor unveiled the wide-ranging spending plans on Wednesday. He forecast the economy will shrink this year by 11.3 per cent - "the largest fall in output for more than 300 years" - and stated that Britain's economic output is not expected to return to pre-crisis levels until the fourth quarter of 2022.

Sunak said "long-term scarring" is also expected to mean that by 2025, the economy will be around three per cent smaller than expected in the March 2020 Budget.

In response, he outlined how the Government is to provide £280 billion this year to help get the country through the coronavirus crisis.

Spending pledges included extra billions for better high streets and town centres, new bypasses, upgraded railway stations, traffic-cutting measures, and more libraries, museums, and galleries to seek to ensure all areas of the UK benefits from the nation's wealth.

Nearly £3 billion is to be spent on a new, three-year Restart Programme scheme designed to tackle the job losses triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

But some in the hospitality sector initially reacted with anger and disappointment to the plans.

The British Beer & Pub Association, the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, said the spending review would not help save existing jobs in pubs, even as is helps to create new opportunities. It warned thousands of pub closures and job losses are "inevitable".

Chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said: “The lack of action by the Chancellor to save pubs and jobs by giving them the proper support they need is staggering.

"It seems pubs have now been cast adrift by the Government. To save businesses and jobs the Chancellor needs to come back to the House this week and set out an enhanced package of support ahead of the new tier system coming into effect."

As the pandemic hit in March, the government introduced a 12-month business rates holiday across the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, and the Government has said that the package is currently providing relief for companies worth over £10 billion.

The Chancellor said the business rates multiplier is to be frozen next year, and it is "also considering options for further Covid-19 related support through business rates reliefs".

McClarkin added: "Whilst the news of a review of business rates reliefs in the New Year is a glimmer of positive news, it is not nearly enough.

“It’s all well and good investing in new jobs, but the actions of this Government are killing viable pub businesses and thousands of jobs that already exist."

James Calder, Chief Executive Society of Independent Brewers, said the chancellor "failed in his duty" to direct further help to breweries in the CSR.

He said: "SIBA will continue to work with other trade and consumer bodies to press the Government to see past the narrow view they are taking on coronavirus and address the wider damage they are doing to jobs, businesses and the irreplaceable culture of the UK's pubs and breweries."

Sunny Hodge, founder of local Elephant & Castle wine bar, Diogenes The Dog, said that any spending review gains from rates relief and other measures would not be enough to offset tier 2 or tier 3 restrictions.

He said: “The spending review announcements will of course help, but nothing would help hospitality more than an explanation as to why our industry is being targeted with tier level restrictions.

"I would advise stop spending money, and start allowing our sector to operate."

On Thursday the Government is due to reveal which of the strengthened tiers London is to enter after December 2.

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