The pandemic has been a very difficult time for pubs, breweries, and our wider hospitality sector in Cheadle, especially given the additional local restrictions we have endured between the national lockdowns. At this time, it is more important than ever that businesses get the support they need to survive and thrive as we emerge from the pandemic.
The Government recognises the need for reform to the alcohol duty system. A call for evidence on this topic was issued in October, and the Government is currently analysing the feedback it received. I look forward to its response, and I hope the process will lead to a reform that works for pubs and breweries.
Last year, the Government froze all alcohol duties – beer, cider, wine, and spirits – for only the second time in 20 years. This is on top of the Government abolishing the beer duty escalator in 2013, and cutting or freezing beer duty several times in the years since.
Furthermore, the Government has acted to help pubs deal with the unique difficulties caused by the pandemic. The business rate discount for small pubs has been increased, HMRC has made it easier to claim back duty on beer thrown away due to pub closures, the furlough scheme has been extended to April, and any business required to close under the new national lockdown is eligible for a one-off grant of up to £9,000. This is in addition to Local Restriction Support Grants of up to £3,000 per month while pubs are required to close, or up to £2,100 per month when pubs can reopen but are still affected by pandemic-related restrictions on trade.