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Takeaway pints from pubs banned from next month as COVID rules expire | UK News

Pubs will not be allowed to sell takeaway pints from the end of next month as rules which were introduced during the pandemic will be allowed to expire by the government.

Takeaway alcohol was first introduced in 2020 to help pubs during lockdowns and other safety restrictions amid the spread of COVID-19.

Pubs with an on-site alcohol licence developed the option as another revenue stream, serving many pints through hatches when they were forced to close their premises.

But the government has refused to extend the rules allowing for takeaway pints after a consultation attracted just 174 responses – a decision which has been branded “disappointing” by the British Beer and Pub Association.

Pubs will need to apply for permission from their local council if they want to continue selling takeaway alcohol when the current rules end on 30 September.

The Home Office said councils, drinks retailers and residents’ groups had preferred a return to pre-COVID rules.

But industry groups representing pubs and landlords said the decision would create more “unnecessary regulation” with no guarantee councils will approve applications for licence changes for individual premises.

Last week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is teetotal, was heckled at the Great British Beer Festival in London when he claimed alcohol duty reforms are “backing British pubs”.

His visit came on the day of an alcohol duty increase.

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Rishi Sunak heckled while pulling a pint

Read more:
‘Running a pub is worse now than during COVID’
Over 150 pubs close in first three months of the year

A new system taxing all alcohol based on its strength has seen taxes rise for some types of drink.

A publican who heckled Mr Sunak criticised the Tory leader for having the “audacity” to visit the festival.

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Rudi Keyser, who runs a pub in Wimbledon, said: “The amount of breweries that have shut down in the last year has been phenomenal.

“They are raising alcohol duty across the board significantly.

“And he has the audacity to come and pull a pint for PR.”

New scaled back energy support measures for businesses announced as old scheme to expire | Business News

Businesses are set to secure £5.5bn in scaled back government support to help them with their energy bills from the start of April, after the current scheme ends.

The new Energy Bill Discount Scheme will reduce rather than cap energy costs for businesses and will last until the end of March next year.

The latest measure replaces the Energy Bill Relief Scheme which fixed wholesale energy costs and came with an estimated £18bn price tag over the six-month lifetime of the policy, according to Office of Budget Responsibility estimates.

Despite lasting half the time period as the old scheme, the Energy Bill Discount Scheme will cost £12.5bn less.

Under the new scheme, gas and electricity prices will be reduced per unit of power.

Bills will automatically be deducted by up to £6.97 per megawatt hour (MWh) for gas bills and up to £19.61 per MWh for electricity bills.

Businesses can only benefit from the scheme when electricity and gas bills are high. Only when prices reach £107 per MWh for gas and £302 per MWh for electricity or higher will companies receive discounts.

A higher electricity and gas price threshold and discount amount will be given to energy intensive businesses, such as steelmakers and manufacturers. Qualifying businesses will receive discounts of £40.0/MWh for gas and £89.1/MWh for electricity as the Treasury said these businesses are less able to pass on higher costs to customers due to international competition.

High energy using businesses will receive discounts under the scheme when gas costs £99 per MWh and electricity costs £185 per MWh.

All non-domestic bill payers, including charities and public sector bodies, are to benefit from the scheme as well.

A cap of £5.5bn has been set on the latest scheme in an effort to limit taxpayer’s exposure to spiralling costs.

Speaking to Sky News, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt defended reducing supports.

When asked if he was happy to see jobs lost and some businesses shut because he’s trying to save a bit of money, Mr Hunt said: “No government can continue to subsidise indefinitely higher energy prices. But what we can do, which matters to all those businesses, is to bring down inflation.

“That means we have to be responsible with public finances. But at the same time, today we’re announcing £5.5bn – that’s nearly a penny on income tax for every taxpayer in the country – to help businesses through this difficult period.”

Some business groups have reacted angrily to the announcement. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) called the government “out of touch”.

“Many small firms will not be able to survive on the pennies provided through the new version of the scheme,” said FSB national chair Martin McTague.