SBPA calls for fairer deal for licenced venues ahead of reopening

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) has called for a fairer deal for the country's pubs, bars and other licenced venues ahead of expected reopening later this month, which they say is currently ‘grossly unfair’.

Under current plans, pubs and bars will be severely limited in their ability to trade viably once allowed to reopen but will receive no extra support in comparison to other sectors which will be able to trade close to normal as soon as they open their doors.

A survey carried out by the trade body showed that the Level 3 restrictions will see estimated turnover fall by 79%, making the majority of Scotland’s licensed venues entirely unviable. Pubs, bars and other late-night venues will receive the same amount as a café or fast-food in grant support, despite the restrictions having a much more damaging impact on the licensed trade.

SBPA CEO Emma McClarkin (pictured) said, “The economic support provided by both governments has been instrumental in preventing business failures, but the current arrangement is grossly unfair to our sector. A café or fast-food outlet will be able to trade almost as normal from the 26th of April, whereas our sector will see turnover drop by 79%, but both will receive the same level of grant support.

“Due to the nature of our business, a huge percentage of trade takes place in the evening but we’ve still no date for when we will be able to return to normal licensing hours. This means that many hospitality businesses are completely in the dark as to when they will return to profitability, with no further economic support from the Scottish Government expected. Even at Level 2, the restrictions on hours will see pubs down 20% on turnover.

“Once again Scotland’s pubs and bars will be at a competitive disadvantage to those in England, where all limitations on trading times will be removed later this month. The Scottish Government must look again at the curfew and allow us to return to regular licensing hours as soon as possible, or provide those businesses impacted with adequate financial support to get them through.

“The current arrangement is simply unfair to the licensed trade and the thousands of employees who work in the sector.”