Pub Trade Outraged As Roadmap Delayed By Four Weeks With No Extra Financial Support
Pub and nightclub owners are warning that businesses will fail and cost the sector millions after the government extended coronavirus restrictions for another four weeks.
Bars with standing room only and without beer gardens, and nightclubs are among the last venues to open as part of the government’s roadmap and business owners had pinned their hopes on a June 21 date to start welcoming customers back.
Businesses also learnt this evening that there will be no further financial support for those that have to remain closed.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the trade association representing brewers and pubs, said the delay in the roadmap for full reopening will cost pubs £400 million and are demanding more financial support.
Emma McClarkin, the organisation's chief executive, said: “Each week of the delay will cost pubs £100 million.
“Pubs and licensees are struggling to recover with the current restrictions they face and debts are accumulating.
“A full package of Government support is now critical for our sector until it is guaranteed to open fully without any restrictions.
“Our pubs require as a minimum an immediate three month extension to the business rates holiday, the ability to defer loan payments due now and a further extension of VAT support."
The British Institute of Innkeeping is calling for a further extension of the VAT cut at five percent until next year and a further postponement of any form of Government debt, including the Bounce Back loans.
BII chief executive, Steve Alton, said: “Government must now urgently extend short term support to help minimise the effects that these continuing restrictions will have on pubs and the wider hospitality sector.
“Even without the delay, we know that the recovery for our sector will be prolonged over many years, with pandemic specific debts per site averaging between £40k and £80k."
The Prime Minister has delayed the roadmap by a month because the highly transmissible Delta variant is leading to a sharp rise in cases, and hospitalisations, and has said it needs more time to vaccinate the population.
Smaller pubs without outdoor space, night clubs and other venues have struggled to make any kind of income in the last 15 months and looming financial pressures coming down the track include the commercial rent eviction ban coming to an end on June 30, employers being asked to contribute to furlough costs from July 1 and the 100 per cent business rates relief tapering off to 67 percent.
Roy Allkin, national chairman of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), told PoliticsHome said the restrictions are disproportionately hitting small breweries.
He said: "Breweries have been largely left out of hospitality support or business rates holidays, with the Business Rates Relief Fund announced in March yet to come to fruition and the Job Retention Bonus being scrapped altogether - leaving brewers further out of pocket."
For the country’s night-time economy businesses, which had a £92 billion turnover in 2019, they are fearful that their venues are now on the brink of failure without more financial support from the government.
The Night Time Economy Advisor for Greater Manchester, Sacha Lord, has today called for urgent clarity on the financial assistance available to businesses if their legal re-opening date is pushed into July. There are over 1800 wet-led pubs in Greater Manchester alone, which have struggled to operate under the current guidelines.
Lord, who founded the Warehouse Project, said: "The Chancellor must commit to a long-term extension of the five percent VAT reduction for the night time sector, extending the rate to include alcohol rather than just food and allowing all hospitality venues equal footing to survive.”
He is also keen to see financial support for businesses considering the expected rise in evictions and debt collection set to begin when the commercial eviction ban ends on June 30. The CBI has also called for an extension to the moratorium on evictions for those making no income due to the pandemic for the very poorest hit businesses.
The furlough scheme continues until September 2021, although the government contribution to wages tapers throughout the summer months, with a 70 percent contribution to wages in July, dropping to 60 percent in August.
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