Publicans will no longer be hit with a charge for destroying spoiled beer as 70million pints are set to be poured away because of the lockdown.
Food Minister Lord Goldsmith has confirmed the government is waiving a fee of between £1,000 to £1,500 normally handed out when large quantities of alcohol are destroyed in sewers.
The closure of pubs on March 20 means more than 850,000 barrels of lager, bitter, and other ales left sitting in beer cellars – the equivalent of 56 Olympic swimming pools – are now undrinkable.
Earlier this week, the UK’s largest beer companies warned the Prime Minister that hundreds of pubs could be closed forever unless a decision on reopening the drinking establishments is taken by Friday.
Speaking in the House of Lords on Wednesday, Lord Goldsmith said there are “enormous difficulties” in getting rid of spoiled beer, and the government is “actively working on finding alternatives to simply disposing of beer down waste systems.”
He added: “Defra was pleased to confirm that it will waive the usual charge to publicans – around £1,000 to £1,500 – for disposing of spoiled beer.
“It is also taking steps to streamline the beer disposal application process and minimise the administrative burden on publicans.
“Those steps include allowing bulk applications from pubs and redeploying teams from elsewhere in water companies to focus solely on processing applications from pubs.”
Boris Johnson’s plan to ease lockdown restrictions announced in May suggested pubs could reopen – albeit with social distancing measures – on July 4.
However, that was only an aspiration and the Prime Minister has yet to confirm if that target will be met.
Speaking last month, Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said some of the spoiled beer could be used in other sectors affected by Covid-19, such as farming.
She added: “The need to destroy so much beer really shows how much our brewing and pub sectors have been affected by this crisis.
“We believe that pubs should only open when safe to do so, but without additional support now – particularly for those who won’t be able to re-open sooner – many more of our nation’s pubs and the brewers that supply them with beer will struggle to survive closure and beyond.
“The Government needs to give our sector much more support.”