Masterbrew – COVID-19 Update
COVID–19 is a rapidly evolving situation and now, following the announcement of new guidelines, the country is effectively in lockdown, asking people to stay inside, closing all non-essential businesses and increasing travel restrictions.
For many breweries, this means having to shut up shop for the foreseeable future. However, the government has provided safety advice for those able to offer takeaway services and taken measures to help businesses with payments during these difficult, uncertain times. Here is what we currently know about how your brewery might be affected:
The HM Treasury’s Head of Excise, confirmed that the Chancellor will not be cancelling the March Beer Duty payment. Despite calls for the cancellation, the Chancellor has as yet, decided against it although this may change over the coming days.
Brewers are strongly encouraged to call HMRC’s ‘time to pay’ helpline on 0300 322 9483 or 0300 322 7821 to defer the payment. It is important to note that these helplines are currently experiencing a high volume of calls, therefore wait times have increased.
However, HMRC have advised that the service is fully staffed and you will have the option to speak to someone specifically about excise duty on the phone. We will provide updates as we receive them with regards to the next payment.
Offering a takeaway service
The Prime Minister has announced that all non-essential businesses should close unless they are listed on the exception list, which can be found here. This morning (25 March) the Government clarified its guidance on the closure of retailers, and after pressure from SIBA and other industry bodies has confirmed that ‘off-licenses and licensed shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries’ are exceptions to the closures.
This means that if you have a bottle shop or taproom selling beer for takeaway you can remain open. Online shops and delivery can also remain open and breweries should ensure they follow the Government’s safety guidelines, which can be found here. However, due to licensing laws, all alcohol deliveries must be accompanied by a food item.
It is also important to note that as of the present time, the Home Secretary has decided not to relax licensing laws, which would enable breweries that do not have an off license to sell and deliver beer directly to the public. However, this will remain under review depending on future government advice.
The Government have announced that no business will be expected to pay VAT until the end of June. This is an automatic change and businesses do not need to worry about making any payments during this quarter or calling HMRC to confirm their payments have been stopped. For more advise on business VAT, please click here.
Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent as a result of COVID-19 over the next three months, will be protected from eviction. If your business is struggling as a result of having to close, you will not have to worry about losing your premises instantly.
We do recommend that you alert your landlord as soon as possible to make them aware of the situation, if this is the case for your business. For the full government advice, please visit Gov.uk.
As the situation evolves, we will advise accordingly. For the meantime, if you have any questions about your business insurance, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Russell Scanlan. The team is now working remotely and a full list of our contact details can be found here.