Pubs And Restaurants Welcome Budget But Warn Roadmap Delay Will Destroy More Businesses
Hospitality groups have welcomed the package of support announced by Rishi Sunak, but said pubs and restaurants must be allowed to reopen without limitations on June 21st to avoid more businesses going under.
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality, said the Chancellor had "listened to the concerns" of the sector and that "it looks like crucial support will help businesses at a critical time".
Emma McClarkin of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said it was a "good Budget for pubs and breweries in the short term, reflecting just how vital they are to the social, cultural and economic fabric of our communities".
Sunak announced a range of financial support on Wednesday afternoon which hospitality groups had been calling for as the sector prepares to gradually re-open from next month.
The Chancellor announced that the reduction of VAT to 5% would be extended until the end of September, while the business rates holiday would continue until the end of June.
All businesses are expected to be able to reopen without restrictions on June 21st, according to the government's roadmap for removing lockdown measures.
The government is also freezing alcohol duty for another year, Sunak told MPs.
These measures, plus the government's decision to extend the furlough scheme until the autumn and provide cash grants of up to £18,000 to businesses including hospitality firms, would "help our sector get back up and running," Nicholls said.
However, she warned "now it is vital that the Government sticks to its date of June 21st for a full reopening of the sector.
"Delay would see more businesses fail, more jobs lost and undo much of the good work the Chancellor has done to date".
She was echoed by BBPA Chief Executive McClarkin, who said: “It is imperative that the Government allows pubs to operate without restrictions as planned from 21st June.
"This will give them the best chance to get back on their feet and serve their communities".
The Food & Drink Federation's Ian Wright said that while food and drink businesses supplying the hospitality sector sectors will welcome the extension of the furlough scheme, the body had "concerns that support tapers too soon and should be kept under review".
From July, firms will be required to pay 10% of a furloughed employee's wages, increasing to 20% in August and September once the lockdown restrictions are lifted.