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  • Writer's picturestevehobman

Brewers face Crisis Christmas -urgent help needed

While some positive help is on the way for pubs and restaurants, brewers are struggling for assistance. Last night I spoke with a small North Wales' brewer whose customer base straddles the border with Cheshire. With the ailing festive trade ,due to Covid fears, he told me that his sales were 50 per cent down for this month - a time when they should be 50 per cent up. Result: effectively a 100 per cent loss. We should all buy as much beer as possible from independent brewers this festive season, either in the pub or from your local beer shop. Make it a beer gift Christmas maybe if you can and help your local brewer survive in 2022.

Here SIBA chief executive James Calder details the problems small brewers are facing and calls for immediate help:

Today the Chancellor has announced a comprehensive package for the hospitality sector and additional support for those in the supply chain, who have been explicitly recognised. It does however appear that breweries will once again not be guaranteed support and instead rely on an additional £100m discretionary fund through their local authorities.”

“Under today’s announcement, small brewers will have to apply to their local authorities for support, which in many cases has not been forthcoming during the devasting 18 month Covid-19 pandemic. Support and access to those grants has also varied massively from postcode to postcode. While brewers should be able to access the Covid Additional Relief Fund, this funding and mechanism was announced in March and local authorities are yet to even set up the scheme for small brewers to apply with the legislation only just passing through Parliament. This contrast with the action taken in Scotland, where the Government has previously provided direct and significant assistance under the Brewers Support Fund.

“Our independent brewing sector relies on pubs for 80% of their sales and have seen sales fall off a cliff in recent weeks under the Government’s lockdown in all but name. The Christmas period is a key trading time for small brewers, who may not now survive into the new year.

“Other measures, including flexibility to pay HMRC, wiggle room on bounce back loan repayments and the new statutory sick pay refund scheme should all be welcomed and will help. But combined, these measures do not go far enough to compensate for the losses brewing will make in December, the profits from which are vital to see businesses through the notoriously quiet post-festive period.”

James Calder, SIBA Chief Executive

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