Brewdog boss calls for emergency tax relief as pubs stare down ‘existential threat’ of high bills
Brewdog CEO James Watt has called for emergency tax relief for the hospitality industry as pubs battle the “genuinely existential threat” of rising energy bills.
Last week, the Scottish brewer and bar group announced it would be closing six outlets across the UK, including three in London, due to elevated headwinds.
The situation facing pubs and bars across the country was “bigger than all of us,” Watt said in a LinkedIn post on Sunday.
He has previously urged Conservative leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to “stop the charade” of not giving help to small firms.
When a business was faced with energy bills and other costs increasing ten-fold, “more likely than not it will just die,” he argued.
Watt urged ministers to reverse an increase in employers’ national insurance contributions introduced in April.
He said: “The Government want to protect people’s jobs so why not make it cheaper to keep them in work?”
Bars should also be given support in the form of a 50 per cent reduction in business rates or a full holiday altogether, for a year, Watt said.
He also called for a year-long VAT holiday. “Everybody will be cutting back on budgets but every little helps,” he stated.
The hospitality chief also called for state-backed loans, which pubs could start repaying in a year’s time.
Echoing the calls of other industry voices, Watt also urged ministers to consider introducing an energy price cap for businesses, similar to the domestic cap, “as soon as is practically possible.”
The government will “end up paying for this one way or another,” Watt said in response to cynics.
“For me, it is better spending on supporting business through this nightmare and helping them to manage costs over the longer term, than spending the money on unemployment benefits and all the rest of it when tens of thousands of businesses inevitably collapse,” he stated.