The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has today backed calls from the Local Government Association to ringfence £1bn in grant funding that would otherwise be clawed back by Government, to continue to help support pubs and other businesses severely affected by the lockdown.
According to the Local Government Association, the Government has written to councils to say it will shut three funding schemes – the Small Business Grants Fund, Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund and the Discretionary Grants Fund – on August 28th, with any unclaimed funds returning to the Government. It estimates that over £1bn in grant scheme funding will be lost.
The BBPA is therefore backing the Local Government Association’s call for Government to keep funding available so councils can redistribute any unspent resources to reinvest and support businesses and local economies through this crisis. Although pubs were allowed to reopen in England from the 4th of July, they have had to operate with severely reduced capacities and therefore income since then.
According to the BBPA, such a measure would enable councils to continue supporting pubs and other businesses severely damaged by the lockdown, particularly those such as pubs with a rateable value above £51,000 who were not eligible for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund.
Emma McClarkin, BBPA's Chief Executive, said, “Our sector may have reopened, but it is far from out the woods yet. Our pubs still need all the support they can get and many are still waiting on it, so withdrawing £1 billion in possible funding is short-sighted to say the least.
“The Government should be focused on supporting business like pubs that can help the economies of local communities grow, not withdrawing vital funding at a time businesses across the UK need it most.
“Some 10,000 pubs were unable to benefit from the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund as their business rates were too high. Rather than clawing back this money, it’s a no brainer to use it to help those businesses that have either fallen through the cracks or are continuing to struggle.”