The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) has today (Thursday) called on the Scottish Government to save thousands of pubs and other hospitality businesses by ‘at least’ matching the level of economic support the Welsh Government has committed to their pubs. Currently, the economic support afforded to the average Scottish pub stretches to just £2,700 for the six-week Christmas period, whilst the average pub in Wales will receive £11,300. Some pubs in Wales will be eligible for upwards of £17,000 in grant support, whilst Scottish pubs will struggle to survive this Christmas. It is also understood that there will be no cap on multiple operators in Wales, something which the Scottish Government has included on previous grants. This resulted in many SMEs in the hospitality sector receiving reduced levels of support, putting more jobs at risk. Commenting, CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, Emma McClarkin, said: "As a sector, hospitality businesses are on their knees and are desperately crying out for meaningful economic support. Whilst any grant is of course welcome, the current level of funding does not come close to covering fixed costs, even when closed. In order to support jobs, the Scottish Government needs to at least match the support offered to pub in Wales. "Every day that passes without further economic support means that more pubs will stay closed for good and more jobs will be lost as a result. Pubs in Wales have been given a lifeline which we hope will now see most of their pubs reach the other side of the pandemic. Meanwhile, pubs in Scotland face devastation. "The Scottish Government cannot delay any further and must now announce more support for the hospitality sector, which provides over 100,000 jobs in Scotland. They must also support the jobs of those workers that are employed by multiple operators. The current restriction on grant support means that hundreds of jobs are being put at additional risk, for no reason. Some pubs, if owned by multiple operators will receive absolutely nothing. "If the Welsh Government can support hospitality jobs and businesses with this level of support, the Scottish Government must be able to provide at least equitable support. Without it, thousands of pubs likely stay closed for good."
The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) has expressed its disappointment at the decision by MSPs not to reject outright the highly damaging Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill, saying that more red tape and uncertainty is the last thing the industry needs at this time. The vote – which ignores the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work committees’ recommendations and the independent CGA study – risks burdening pubs with additional red tape and creating extra costs for both pubs and taxpayer. Commenting, CEO of the SBPA Emma McClarkin said: “This decision today is absolutely devastating for the industry and comes at the worst possible time. This Bill is completely unwanted, unneeded and economically damaging. It does nothing to support the sector, whilst it’s going through the biggest crisis it has ever faced. “We will of course work constructively with MSPs of all parties at Stage 2, however there should be no doubt; by voting for this proposal, MSPs have added an enormous amount of uncertainty for business, which will only result in pub operators losing out on much-needed investment. “Unless fundamental changes are made at Stage 2, pubs in Scotland now face being at a severe disadvantage to pubs elsewhere in the UK, risking the pace of recovery as we look to come out of the Covid crisis. Tied tenants are rightly questioning why politicians are focusing on punishing them with more regulation and red tape, when the industry is already on its knees. “It’s especially surprising MSPs have decided to back this Bill, as no meaningful evidence has been provided to indicate a problem. A Scottish Code is already in place for pub tenants, which has only received one single complaint against it since its launch four years ago. “The Economy Committee’s report also concluded that there was no evidence of a need for legislation. “The only independent study into the issue, commissioned by the Scottish Government in 2016, is also being ignored. It is quite clear that this is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. MSPs will need to explore in the detail the technical feasibility of this proposal, the legality of such an intervention into contract law and show clearly why taxpayer money should be spent on setting above an expensive public body to oversee this code.” Pub tenants, whom the Bill seeks to ‘support’, are also unhappy with the proposals. Speaking ahead of the vote, Andrena Bowes, who runs eight pubs across Edinburgh, the Lothians’ and Fife said: “The Coronavirus has devastated the pub sector and politicians should be focused on that, not wasting time on proposals which aren’t wanted and definitely not needed. “As a tenant under the tied model, I can speak personally of its success and joint-partnership model, which sees a sharing of the rewards and responsibilities. “During the pandemic, my pub company has provided constant advice, support, reimbursement for unusable stock and have also written off rent, which without would have forced us to close our doors for good. “The news that this proposal is even being considered in light of the pandemic makes you want to cry. Hospitality businesses are begging for meaningful economic support that could save their livelihoods and jobs of their staff, and politicians are wasting time discussing technical rules which impacts a tiny minority of pubs. “Above all, pubs need certainty, but Neil Bibby’s Bill removes what little certainty we had at this time.”
The Scottish Beer and Pub Association is today (Thursday) calling on MSPs to reject the proposed Tied Pubs Bill when it is voted on one week today. Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said: "This Bill is not evidence-based, and far from helping Scotland's pubs, it poses a real danger to future investment in the sector, entrepreneurship opportunities, threatens jobs and it should be resoundingly rejected by MSPs. "Covid-19 has decimated the pub sector in Scotland. Pubs directly support over 45,000 jobs in Scotland and many of them face an uncertain future as they struggle to get back on their feet and adapt to the changing circumstances that Covid-19 presents. "Pubs need support from MSPs, not legislation that misunderstands the Scottish market and has already been found to be unnecessary by an independent report commissioned by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament's Economy Committee. "The fact is, this Bill was ill conceived before Covid-19, but it would be economically ruinous to the sector if it was passed in the current circumstances and it is vital that all MSPs show their support for Scottish pubs by voting this Bill down at Stage 1." Pubs tenants have also urged MSPs to save their pubs by voting AGAINST the Tied Pubs Bill. Operator Andrena Bowes, who is tenant and operator of seven pubs in the Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife said: “The coronavirus has devastated the pub sector and politicians should be focused on that, not wasting time on proposals which aren’t wanted and definitely not needed. “As a tenant under the tied model, I can speak personally of its success and joint-partnership model, which sees a sharing of the risks and rewards. “During the pandemic, my pub company has provided constant advice, support, reimbursement for unusable stock and have also reduced rent, which without would have forced us to close our doors for good. “The news that this proposal is even being considered in light of the pandemic makes you want to cry. Hospitality businesses are begging for meaningful economic support that could save their livelihoods and jobs of their staff, and politicians are wasting time discussing technical rules which impacts a tiny minority of pubs. “Above all, pubs need certainty, but Neil Bibby’s bill removes what little certainty we have at this time. MSPs can give a little bit back by voting against the Tied Pubs Bill next week. “MSPs of all parties need to stop playing politics and start saving pubs.” Pointing to the unintended consequences of the proposal, tenant and pub operator with premises across Central Scotland, Craig McLaughlin added: “The Tied Pubs Bill would be disastrous for pubs in Scotland and it comes at the worst possible time as the industry is already on its knees. “The whole hospitality industry needs stability, certainty and investment right now. This bill offers none of these. Investing in pubs is absolutely critical to their survival. This bill not only ensures that much needed investment programmes stop, it also adds layers of additional costs and bureaucracy to an already overburdened trade. “One particular area that I would see under immediate pressure is that of safety and compliance. All businesses take the safety of staff and customers very seriously, however as an unintended consequence this bill will shift the responsibility to the tenant to ensure regulations are adhered to. “At present, the burden on compliance and legally required checks such as emergency lighting, fire equipment, gas safety, electrical inspections and maintenance, all fall to the landlord to ensure that the site is safe for trading. These companies have networks and the resources to track and complete works. “Under the Free of Tie model, the tenant of the property is required to take on these responsibilities, meaning a fragmented approach to health and safety, resulting in things falling through the cracks as small operators don’t have the capacity or resources to deal with the ever-increasing compliance requirements. “It has been my experience from my many years in the trade, that some Free of Tie pubs fell short of the basic health and safety standards, sometimes due to a lack of understanding of their obligations and in other cases not having the funds to do so. “I understand MSP’s are not familiar with the inner workings of this industry. Those who vote for the bill next week would, albeit inadvertently, be responsible for the loss of jobs as a result. “Don’t impose legislation that is neither wanted nor required.”