A Richmondshire brewery has poured beer away in protest at the lack of support received by small breweries during the pandemic
Wensleydale Brewery, based in Leyburn, has this week taken part in a national protest urging the Government to do more to help the industry.
The protest comes as the nation marks a year since the start of the first lockdown, which saw pubs across the country close — and stay shut for much of the past 12 months.
Wensleydale Brewery director Geoff Southgate said breweries were pouring away their beer in protest about the lack of support provided by the Government and Chancellor and Richmond MP Rishi Sunak.
He said small breweries brewed 200 million fewer pints in the last year because of Covid, losing ten years of growth.
Small breweries across the UK have poured away over six million pints of craft beer due the pandemic, but he added that the Government has not provided compensation for this wasted beer.
Breweries say they have not received the same level of support from the Government as the wider hospitality sector and have not been given direct grants to protect businesses and livelihoods.
Millions of pints down the drain but little support from the Government, @RishiSunak, Please sign the petition and support your local brewery https://t.co/03KIkSWXnZ #brewersdownthedrain pic.twitter.com/K1mwTXY7YK
— Wensleydale Brewery (@Wensleydale_Ale) March 23, 2021
In contrast, the Scottish Government has introduced the brewers support fund providing up to £30,000 for each brewery.
Geoff added: “Local small breweries, like ours, are under threat and need urgent support to survive the Covid crisis.
“The local community pubs that we rely on have been closed for much of the last year and we haven’t received the grants we need to get through the crisis.
“While the wider hospitality sector has seen direct grants and support, we haven’t received the same level of help as we need.
“We’ve had to pour away thousands of pints of beer so we’re asking the Chancellor to come to our rescue and introduce a Brewers Support Fund as they have in Scotland.”
The industry has launched petition calling on the government to set up a support fund.
A HM Treasury spokesperson said: “We’ve invested more than £350 billion throughout the pandemic to protect millions of jobs and businesses.
At Budget we froze beer duty for the 4th year straight, extended our furlough scheme through to September so that businesses have certainty that help is in place, extended business grants discretionary funding for local authorities to distribute and extended loans for six more months to get us through the recovery.
“We also invest over £65m per year in craft brewing through Small Brewers Relief (SBR) and will continue to do so. This has increased since 2010 from £30m.”
To sign it, click here.