BII says Budget provides key foundations for pubs to rebuild on

Today’s Budget announcement from the Chancellor provides some key foundations on which pubs can now begin to rebuild their businesses, the BII has said.

The trade body stated: 'The months ahead will be extremely challenging for pub operators as they now look to reopen their businesses, rebuild their teams and prepare their pubs for a safe return for their customers and staff.

'Critical to our pubs’ recovery is the ability to trade free of restrictions at the earliest opportunity and no later than the 21st June. Only through full trading over the next 12 months will many of our pubs be able to recover their businesses, after a year of minimal trading which left many pubs deep in debt and teetering on the edge of collapse.

'The full recovery of our nations’ pubs will take years and they will need long term support to ensure that they can profitably trade, enabling them to contribute to the recovery of the wider economy and provide vital local employment and career opportunities.

'The package of support announced meets many of the critical priorities for our members in the form of extended furlough to September, Business Rates cancellation until the end of June and then discounted by two thirds until April 2022, as well as a further extension to the VAT cut to 5% for the next 7 months, followed by an interim rate of 12.5% until the end of March 2022.

'The additional grants announced before the budget are broadly welcomed by our members, however, these still do not fully cover the basic ongoing costs of our closed pubs, with many of them still supporting their teams through the furlough process. Very simply, our pubs will continue to build their debts until the day where they are free of restrictions and trading fully.

'The additional funds available for supporting community pubs is welcomed, however, pubs that were viable businesses before the pandemic, should be the main priority for support to ensure that these vital community hubs do not disappear in the first place.'

Steven Alton, BII's CEO, (pictured), commented, “With the package of support from Government laid out, our pubs can begin to look to the future of their businesses once more. The extension of furlough to September will help our pubs to manage the return of their teams until they are able to trade freely again. The confirmation of further reductions in Business Rates will allow them time to recover, but until our nation’s pubs are able to return to normal trading, the vast majority of these businesses will still be loss making.

“The extension of the VAT cut is welcomed, helping food businesses through the summer, however for our community wet-led pubs, the benefit will be extremely limited and they will not be able to trade profitably until all restrictions are removed.

“The news on further grants is positive, but in no way covers the basic running costs of our closed pubs or compensates them for the lost income over the last 12 months. For many of our members, these grants will not even cover the furlough contributions that will be needed to safeguard their teams until May, let alone June.

“The support announced gives our sector an opportunity to rebuild as they reopen in line with the Government roadmap, however, any changes to their plan will need to be matched with appropriate support measures.'

Alton ended, “I have no doubt that customers will return to their local pubs at the earliest opportunity and once again be given a fantastic hospitality experience. Our members have shown throughout this crisis their commitment to their local communities, and their ability to keep customers and staff safe. They will need all of our support over the coming weeks and months, as we all return to the Great British pub.”