We champion issues that matter to the beer and pub industry. These are causes our members are passionate about; whether it's promoting beer as the nation’s drink, or campaigning against increases to beer duty and businesses rates that are so damaging to community pubs.
Commenting on the Scottish Government’s budget announcement today (Thursday), the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) has warned the decision not to replicate the business rates relief will be met with disappointment from hospitality operators. Emma McClarkin OBE, CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association said: “The lack of an announcement on business rates relief for Scotland’s pubs is hugely disappointing and will be met with dismay by many operators. Both the UK Government and Welsh Government have ensured that eligible businesses there will receive a 75% discount on rates next year, after a 50% discount for the entirety of this year. In comparison, Scottish businesses have been back to full rates since the summer. This puts Scotland's pubs at a significant disadvantage in their recovery given the challenges they are facing. “We’re glad the Finance Secretary’s has listened to industry and agreed to freeze UBR. This will provide a greater degree of certainty moving into 2023, but does not make-up for the failure to replicate the 75% discount the trade had been hoping for. “From Perth to Paisley, Stranraer to Stornoway, licensed premises are trying desperately to hold on amidst a perfect storm, with increased business costs and customers who are being more careful than ever about what they’re spending, they are being squeezed at both ends and profit margins are being wiped out. “We still desperately need additional action from both the Scottish Government and Westminster to save our much-loved pubs. Staff shortages, pressures throughout the supply chain, rising business costs, and unfathomable energy prices with inadequate support, are all adding together to create an extremely hostile environment for businesses. When coupled with increased regulations, including an unevidenced and unwanted Tied Pubs code, and impacts from Deposit Return, there is still a real uphill struggle for many to survive. Without our pubs and brewers our communities will be poorer not only economically but socially. “Investment is critical to our sector’s survival and growth, and we remain committed to working alongside Government to ensure that Scotland remains competitive, and the sector can continue being a bedrock of the national economy.”
Commenting on Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) due to go live one year to the day and the release of the producer fees, Emma McClarkin, CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association said: “With just one year to go before Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme is set to start operating, there is a lot of work still to be done. Establishing producer fees is critical so producers can plan ahead and assess the impact on their businesses. Unfortunately, this will put even more financial pressure on both brewers and pubs at a very difficult time as they battle with soaring energy costs and labour shortages. The combination of a deposit and additional producer fees, themselves very significant amounts, will particularly impact products such as beer sold in smaller single-serve containers, often as part of multipacks. “The Scottish Government have shown that they are mindful about the cost of doing business and have supported calls for a range of measures, but they need to be acutely aware that the producer fee is just one of a myriad of costs attached to a DRS. Labelling, new IT systems, staff training, security, storage, and fraud risks will all come with significant expenditures. There also remains several elements still to be finalised, such as VAT treatment and the on-line takeback model, that with just a year to go is causing significant concerns among businesses. “We are committed to working alongside the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to deliver the best possible DRS, but without wider relief to the costs of doing business currently we risk losing many of Scotland’s brewers and pubs before DRS even starts.”
Scotland’s three major hospitality trade associations, the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA), Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), and UKHospitality Scotland (UKHS) have called on the Scottish Government not to exclude pubs from their current proposals which would see other hospitality premises, like restaurants have greater flexibility with on-street seating. As part of the Scottish Government’s Permitted Development Rights consultation (which closed 4 Aug), it is proposed that outdoor restaurant seating could be permitted without a planning application. Under the current proposal however, it would only apply to restaurants and other businesses currently operating as a class 3 businesses (food & drink for consumption on the premises) not pubs or bars. This is due to pubs and bars being classified differently, despite the fact many are now indistinguishable from restaurants and other hybrid venues. In their submissions to the Scottish Government’s consultation, all three trade associations joined together in their call and have today said that Scotland’s pubs and bars can’t be forgotten about. Commenting, Paul Togneri of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association said:“This should be a no brainer for the Scottish Government. Since the planning use classes came into effect, the hospitality industry has changed massively. Many pubs and bars provide almost identical services to restaurants and should be able to benefit from the same relaxation being offered to them. “In normal times, the sector is a powerhouse of the Scottish economy, contributing £1.4bn annually and supporting 54,000 jobs. In addition, every local pub creates on average £100k every year for their local economies. To get the sector and city centres thriving again post-covid, we need support, and this sort of change can be a huge boost to thousands of SMEs across the country. “We saw a relaxation of planning for outdoor areas during the pandemic which gave many premises the ability to trade through an exceptionally difficult period. We’re glad that the Government are now seeking to make some of those relaxations permanent, but it needs to be for the whole of hospitality. Pubs and bars are at risk of being forgotten about.” Scottish Licensed Trade Association Managing Director Colin Wilkinson said:“The Scottish Licensed Trade Association fully supports measures that will aid the road to recovery for the licensed hospitality sector and also help to regenerate our town and city centres, but these proposals must cover all licensed hospitality businesses.“The current exclusion of pubs and bars from the Permitted Development Rights proposal, in our view, is nothing short of discriminatory. Over the last few years pubs and bars have become restaurants and restaurants have become pubs and bars and in operational terms and service offering there is, in our opinion, little to distinguish from the two. If pubs and bars remain excluded from the PDR for moveable furniture we can only see a raft of applications for change of use to a restaurant to avoid this discriminatory measure.“Our sector is extremely envious of the recent development in England where hospitality venues can now benefit from the ability to erect a non-permanent outdoor structure, subject to a number of restrictions and conditions, without planning permission or associated costs. It is incumbent on the Scottish Government to support “all” sectors of the Scottish licensed hospitality industry in this same manner.”UKHospitality Scotland Executive Director Leon Thompson said:“UKHospitality Scotland has consistently called for businesses to be able to make greater use of outdoor space and is supportive of the Scottish Government’s proposal to do this. This move will help the hospitality industry as it works towards recovery, with greater ability to welcome more guests at peak times and appeal to a greater number of customers, as many people prefer and enjoy being seated outside.“However, it is important that pubs and bars are also included in this proposal, not only restaurants and cafes. As well as the support this would give to these licensed premises, it will avoid confusion in deciding what is a pub and what isn't, with many businesses classified as pubs now involved in selling food.“Last month England made pavement licenses permanent, providing potentially business-saving opportunities to hundreds of pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes. Scotland's hospitality businesses should have access to at least the same generous terms.”