The Prime Minister’s announcement today has delivered yet another devastating blow for our nations’ fragile and debt-laden pubs.
Over the course of the pandemic, the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has consistently taken the voice of its members to Government, leaving them in no doubt that a delay at any stage of the already cautious roadmap which restricts the ability of pubs to once again trade freely and fully, will be hugely damaging to the recovery of the whole sector.
With rent, business rates for England and loan repayments all becoming due in the next few weeks on top of already heavy staffing costs and mounting losses, any delayed return to full and free trading MUST be met with further short term support.
The BII is urgently continuing to call for:
· Full business rate cancellation until April 22 for England, in line with the other devolved nations,
· Further extension of the VAT cut at 5% until next year,
· A targeted duty cut on draught beer served in pubs, and
· Formal postponement of any form of Government debt, including Bounce Back & CBILS loans, as well as VAT payments.
BII CEO, Steve Alton (pictured) said, “Pubs at the heart of their communities are built on the resilience provided by the summer months, boosted by sporting events, large scale family celebrations and being an essential part of the UK tourism offer. Put simply, every day of critical summer trading lost, is a step closer to business failure.
“Whilst many outside of the hospitality sector may perceive this delay as being a small price to pay, for pubs, with 16 months of severe disruption & closure behind them, any further delay requires further and immediate support.
“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. The pressure of the debts that have mounted over the course of the pandemic is now meeting significant costs coming back on line for businesses head on, creating a perfect storm.'
Alton went on, “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. There needs to be a long term plan in place to provide these vital community spaces with the opportunity to rebuild their livelihoods, whilst supporting local employment and contributing to the UK’s overall economic recovery.
“We have seen the pent-up demand from customers desperate to return to their normal lives, but this delay and ongoing uncertainty will have far reaching consequences for every area of the hospitality sector, affecting the confidence of consumers, potential employees uncertain on the stability of jobs and essential investment in our viable businesses.'
Alton finished, “Government must now break this perpetual cycle of uncertainty. They must now provide urgent clarity on how this further delay will enable our members to fully reopen their businesses as soon as possible. Critical to the recovery of our sector is the ability to simply trade free of restrictions and be able to plan for the future.”