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.”
Further restrictions will deliver a ‘knockout blow’ for many pubs – thousands of pubs, jobs and livelihoods at severe risk Responding to the new restrictive measures announced by the First Minister and Scottish Government this afternoon (Wednesday), the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) have said that the £40million of economic support offered is unlikely to save many businesses. It says thousands of jobs are now at high risk not just in the pub and hospitality sector, but across the wider supply chain. Commenting, CEO of the SBPA, Emma McClarkin said: “These harsh new restrictions will deliver a knockout blow for many of Scotland’s much-loved pubs and the communities they serve. We entirely understand and appreciate the difficult situation of the government and the need to continue to take measures to suppress the virus, but we question the fairness and wisdom of these restrictions and the level of financial support available to help our sector through this. “As the first minister acknowledged, the pub and wider hospitality industry has worked incredibly hard, going above and beyond in implementing measures to provide safe and regulated places for communities to socialise in. We therefore question the proportionality of the 16-day total ban on alcohol consumption indoors in every pub and hospitality venue across Scotland, resulting in the loss of many pubs’ primary income stream. This is in addition to the total closure of all pubs and hospitality venues in the central belt of Scotland. “Pubs across the country provide a safe regulated environment for people to socialise in, but also increasingly as a space to work or study. The small number which can continue to operate with these restrictions will do so, but unfortunately without an ability to sell any alcohol, most are unlikely to be viable. “The financial support on offer is of course welcome, but it does not go nearly far enough. For the majority of premises, the available funds will not even come close to covering the required furlough contributions for the period, never mind ongoing fixed costs and stock. We need to review the financial support on offer and work with government to protect as many pubs, jobs and livelihoods as possible. “We also must not overlook the impact this will have on brewers, who have already seen around 50% of their on-trade business disappear this year. The knock-on effect of these new restrictions will be felt keenly among Scotland’s brewers. As a result, there will now likely be further redundancies and jobs lost within our sector. Nick MacKenzie, CEO of Greene King, which has 240 pubs in Scotland and 2500 employees, said: “Today’s shut-down of Scottish pubs is a devastating blow for the thousands of people who work in the industry. We understand that decisive action needs to be taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We have invested millions of pounds in ensuring that our pubs are safe and only had six Test and Protect requests from NHS Scotland in total across our 125 managed pubs since we reopened on 15 July, having served millions of customers. It is time to stop unfairly targeting pubs. “The sector has already seen pub closures and job losses and a second shut-down will see more closures and lost jobs in every Scottish community. We welcome the acknowledgement that support is needed but are concerned that £40m won’t go far enough and urgently need to understand the detail and the speed this can be deployed.”