Dodds urged to open hospitality grants scheme up to drinks producers to save NI brewing industry from collapse
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Consumer group CAMRA NI calls for COVID-19 grants to be given to local independent brewers in face of pub and restaurant closures and a ban on selling beer online.
The Economy Minister Diane Dodds MLA is expected to open the Executive’s scheme offering £25,000 grants for companies in the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors next week.
Businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 will be eligible – but it is unclear whether local independent beer and cider producers will be in line to receive the funding.
Commenting, Chair of CAMRA NI Ruth Sloan said:
“Our small, independent producers tell CAMRA that they have lost up to 70% of their business, which came from pubs and restaurants serving locals and tourists alike. Firms are now facing £100,000s in lost orders.
“Social distancing means the business model for breweries just isn’t sustainable – but outdated laws prevent them from selling beer and cider online for home delivery so they can’t find other ways to sell their products – even though internet sales would be sensible and allow people to buy beer and support local businesses without leaving the house.
“The Executive’s small business grants of £10,000 will be welcome news for those smaller brewing businesses who qualify, but questions remain over the £25,000 grants for hospitality firms and whether this will include brewers and cider-makers.
“The Minister really must offer this support to these local drinks businesses by opening up these grants to brewers – otherwise it could spell the end of NI’s independently produced beer and cider.”
CAMRA Press Office:
CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, is a not-for-profit consumer group with over 192,000 members that has been operating since 1971. Our vision is to have quality real ale and thriving pubs in every community.