Our pubs are in trouble. Last year they were forced to pour 87 million pints down the drain because of trading restrictions and lockdowns.
Beer sales were hit by 56%, worth £7.8billion, and now there are growing concerns beer duty will be increased in the March budget.
After an incredibly difficult year, the Long Live the Local campaign says a rise in beer duty – already three times higher on average than Europe – will be the death of British pubs. Almost 2,000 pubs closed their doors for good in 2020 – that’s five pubs every single day.
Here, model-turned publican Jodie Kidd, landlady of The Half Moon in Kirdford, West Sussex, urges the Tories to do more to save our pubs…
There’s a lot of love behind the great British pub. I’ve come from a world of catwalks and racing cars so when I came into the industry with fresh eyes it was something I knew nothing about.
When we got the pub in 2017 I started to really understand just how tough it is, how the taxes are so extraordinarily high and how the margins you make are really, really tiny.
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It was an eye opener to be a publican and a landlady, having previously only been on the other side of the bar and enjoying it.
Things were tough then, never mind now with a pandemic and three
lockdowns, yet still many don’t realise just how bad it really is.
The industry is on its knees.
We didn’t open the pub when everyone else did in July.
Because of social distancing restrictions, we’re very small anyway, and we didn’t know when we were going to go into another lockdown.
So we made the painful decision that it would be more financially viable to keep our doors closed over the summer.
On my usual visits to make sure the place was still standing it was so sad to see it shuttered up.
We treaded water and then ahead of Christmas we had to get some revenue and did a big push for the festive season.
The pub was back to life again and it was so lovely to see everyone back.
Finally things were looking up, until 10 days later in mid-December we were put into Tier 4.
Beer was poured down the drain, food was thrown away and we closed our doors once again – it was painful.
There are going to be thousands of pubs just like us who are holding on by tooth and nail.
We have one last chance to get this right, to get all the provisions and get a plan together to really go for it.
If we go in and out of lockdown again, I cannot bear to even think about it.
This year has been extremely challenging for our industry but even without the pandemic, there’s something else crippling our pubs – beer tax.
Landlords like me are desperate to be open and welcome back our locals at the right time, but the thought of having tax increases to cope with on top of all this is unbearable. Since 2018, Long Live the Local have been rallying the Government and yet there still hasn’t been a cut in beer duty.
In 2018 we were losing three pubs a day, that’s 1,000 a year, now it’s up to five pubs every day – almost 2,000 pubs closed last year.
The analogy I like to use is this – if you buy one pint, a third of that pint we have to pay back just in taxes including beer duty. Every single pint we sell is only making pence.
The UK is three times higher on average on beer duty than any other European country.
On top of that there’s so many other things – paying for your team, the rent of the building, upkeep, utilities, the business rate tax, and VAT.
With the possibility of coming out of lockdown in April, with furlough ending and some restrictions still in place, it’s going to take us years and years to recover. If they raise the beer tax it could be the death of the British pub.
So I am asking Rishi Sunak and the Government to think about this very
seriously and cut the beer tax in the March budget, before our pubs are
- Jodie is supporting Long Live The Local’s campaign to cut Beer Duty to support Britains pubs and breweries. To sign the petition visit www.longlivethelocal.pub