MPs press Chancellor to provide help for small brewers

A group of 14 MPs have written to the Chancellor to ask for more support for small brewers whose businesses have been financially hit by the Covid-19 crisis.

The letter backs a campaign begun by Ben Everitt, the Conservative MP for Milton Keynes North, and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).

The organisation says the crisis has seen sales for the UK’s craft brewers drop 82% and around two-thirds of British breweries mothball their operations. 

The letter calls on the Chancellor to halve beer duty bills for all British-owned independent brewers based on the rate they paid last year.

It also calls for the business rates grants and holidays offered to the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors to be extended to the brewing sector to protect jobs in producers and the supply chain.

Campaigners are also asking for brewers to be given extra time to pay any duty that they already owe, with the on-trade closedown widely hitting cashflow.

SIBA said it would also like to see prompter payments to keep small brewers afloat, with a national, standard, secured 30-day payment term. 

The Chancellor is also being asked to positively reform Small Breweries’ Relief, which has been under review by the Treasury since 2018. 

SIBA chief executive James Calder said: “There are around 2,000 small independent brewers in the UK, and nearly every MP has at least one brewer in their patch creating great beer and employing local people.

“If the Chancellor were to enact what we are calling for, we have a fighting chance of survival.

“Without these reforms, thousands of skilled jobs in breweries and in the supply chain will be lost.”

Everitt added: “Small independent brewers are at the centre of our local communities, supporting jobs and the economy and many MPs recognise the important role they play.

“With Covid-19, the industry has been devastated by the sudden closure of pubs but brewers have not received the same level of financial support from the government.

“Without immediate assistance now, and longer term-measures, there is a danger that many brewers won’t be able to reopen or survive into the future.

“Opening pubs is the focus of ministers right now, but ensuring we have quality, local beers to drink in them when they open should also demand our attention. ”

The letter is signed by Everitt and fellow Conservative MPs Aaron Bell (Newcastle-under-Lyme), Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire), Tom Hunt (Ipswich), Sir Greg Knight (East Yorkshire), Julian Sturdy (York Outer), James Sunderland (Bracknell) and Christian Wakeford (Bury South).

It is also backed by Lib Dem MPs Wendy Chamberlain (North East Fife) and Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross), and Owen Thompson, the SNP member for Midlothian.