THE DIRECTOR of a north Pembrokeshire brewery has called on the Prime Minister to support small independent breweries who have missed out on Covid-19 support.

Emily Hutchinson, director of Bluestone Brewing Company has added her name to a letter to Boris Johnson urging him to extend the hospitality support to cover small breweries, compensate small brewers for the millions of pints that have to be thrown away when pubs are forced to close and to scrap the proposed changes to small brewers' relief.

"Small independent breweries are community focused, local businesses that continue to be seriously impacted by the tough restrictions and the closure of pubs," says the letter.

"We have been left out of the government's support of hospitality and now face a tax rise at the exact moment of economic crisis."

The letter says that small breweries have missed out on the support the hospitality industry has received during the coronavirus crisis including the business rates holiday, the £25,000 grant and direct support in the VAT cut and Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

During lockdowns and when pubs are forced to close small breweries lost more than 80% of their trade and had to pour away five million pints of spoilt beer with no compensation.

"The tier restrictions have decimated our trade," says the letter. "Even though we have no one to sell to, we are not seen as closed businesses for government support.

"Many small breweries have also not qualified for discretionary local authority grants. We are now running on empty and we have already seen two small breweries a week closing for good this summer, during winter those numbers are likely to rise."

The letter says that a tax hike will be imposed on small breweries through changes to small breweries' relief come in.

"Now is simply not the time for a tax hike on small businesses," it states.

"We need an urgent package of support to get us through this crisis before it is too late, and what we are asking for is very simple," says the letter.

"Scotland has recently announced direct grants for small breweries and Northern Ireland has extended business rates holidays to include the sector."

The letter says that the government should extend the hospitality support to cover small breweries including rate relief, compensate small brewers and scrap the proposed changes to small brewers' relief.

"We as an industry are peering over the edge, into the abyss," says the letter. "It's time to act and support small businesses and small breweries, so that we can continue to grow and create skilled jobs in the future. "