Pubs: Over 200 business leaders call on Govt for emergency support

More than 200 business leaders from the pub and hospitality sector have called on the government for immediate emergency support.

A letter, co-signed by more than 200 members of the British pub and hospitality sectors, has warned that without immediate financial assistance a wave of closures is inevitable.

UKHospitality, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), and a raft of business leaders have all signed the document, titled:
“Short-term Emergency Support Needed If The Hospitality Sector Is To Reach The End Of Lockdown And Secure Our Recovery”

The letter sent to the Chancellor states:

  • One in five businesses do not have enough cash to survive the rest of February.
  • Nearly two-thirds do not have enough cash to survive until the end of May.
  • Businesses are spending, on average, £10,000 per month to remain closed.
  • Trading restrictions will leave businesses unable to breakeven until the June lifting of restrictions.

“The Prime Minister’s long-awaited roadmap out of the current lockdown is truly devastating to the tourism, hospitality and pub sector. The restrictions in place mean that there will be no sustainable reopening until 21st June, with May 17th the first opportunity for any reasonable trading. Restricted trading does not allow breakeven across the industry, so it is crucial that the 21st June date is kept to.

“There is a genuine fear amongst many in our sector that businesses are going to fail and jobs will be lost at the eleventh hour.”

“The length of this delay will severely jeopardise the survival of large numbers of businesses in our sector. We will miss the critical Easter period and the first May Bank Holiday weekend – and will have only traded one bank holiday in the last year. This will be particularly harmful to seasonal and businesses. Britain’s diverse tourism offer risks getting off to an extremely slow start.”

The letter calls for a number of measures to be introduced, in order to safeguard the continued viability of hospitality businesses, these include:

  • An extension of the 5% VAT rate with the cut widened to include other products and services across hospitality.
  • A full business rates holiday for 2021/22.
  • Extension of full furlough with no National Insurance Contributions for closed businesses.
  • Enhanced grants for hospitality businesses until 21st June with State Aid rules disapplied.
  • A beer duty cut.
  • No repayment of HMRC debts before 1st July.
  • Extension of the rent moratoria with Government and stakeholders working towards finding a solution to the rent debt crisis.

Upon publication of the letter, the trade associations released a joint statement: 

“This week’s announcement of the plan for reopening the economy has sent shock waves through the nation’s hospitality businesses. There is a genuine fear amongst many in our sector that businesses are going to fail and jobs will be lost at the eleventh hour.

“One-fifth of businesses will run out of cash this month and nearly two-thirds will run out by the end of May. Meanwhile, costs continue to pile up for businesses that cannot yet open, only putting more at risk. Many businesses that provide crucial jobs and support investment in communities across the country will fail before they have a chance to reopen their doors.

“The Chancellor must announce a substantial package of financial support at next month’s Budget to keep these businesses alive until the summer. The sector will not be back to viable trading until restrictions are removed in June so emergency support needs to reflect this.

“After a year of misery, the end is now finally in sight. The Government cannot allow business to fail now, when the reopening of our sector is within touching distance. Members of the public are desperately looking forward to socialising with their friends and family, for the first time in over a year in many cases. If the Government does not act, they may not be able to.”