The Government is offering grants of £25,000 for businesses with rateable values of between £15,001 and £51,000. And a £10,000 grant if their value is £15,000 or less.
However, some 9,184 pubs will miss out on a grant of any kind because their rateable value is too high, according to the Altus Group’s analysis of business rates-paying pubs for England and Wales as of 31 March 2020.
This figure includes 5,677 pubs in the band of £51,000 to £100,000 and 3,507 in the band of £100,001 or more. This is out of a total of 41,011 pubs, meaning that more than one in five pubs will lose out because their rateable value is too high.
Pub operators have told The Morning Advertiser they feel “heartbroken” and “frustrated” to miss out on this non-repayable grant and are unsure whether to take out loans or not.
Dan Smaje operates the White Hart, in Headington, Oxford, which has an rateable value of exactly £51,000 (pictured).
He said: “Everybody else, all the pubs around here, have got the grant. We missed out by a pound. It is frustrating to say the least.”
Smaje continued: “We understand that there has to be a cut off somewhere but we are just on the cliff edge. It’s not gradual, it’s nothing.
“It is just heartbreaking to miss out on a non repayable grant, which would have been a massive, massive help.”
The pub has been in the process of challenging its rate with the Valuation’s Office since October 2019 but was told councils are not obligated to retrospectively pay the grant even if its rate is determined to be lower than £51,000.
Pubs with very high rateable values have said they feel they have been penalised for their sites’ success.
Claire Alexander is the freeholder of two pubs both with rateable values well above the cap and said she had been disadvantaged despite contributing more to the economy than grant recipients.
She said: “This Government supposedly prides itself on business and enterprise yet currently appears to be leaving those that make some of the most significant contributions high and dry.
“So far, all we have been given is an opportunity to borrow more money – this is not help and will not save hospitality or the huge contribution it makes to the UK economy.
“And as well as jobs, our pubs are what makes the UK so unique and special, feeding directly into tourism, another huge contributor.”
Alexander said she has 48 families relying on her for wages across the Ebrington Arms near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, and the Killingworth Castle, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire, and these jobs could be at risk without Government support.
Rachel Fletcher operates the Bell Inn, Rugby, Warwickshire, which has a rateable value of £51,500, and said she wants the Government to explain why it chose £51,000 as its threshold.
She said: “I’m just a normal pub. I’ve worked pretty hard to get to this point and to feel like you’re not seeing anything back from support from the Government feels a bit unfair. You think it’s not a level playing field really.”
She will start up a takeaway business to raise cash but said she is worried about the “daunting” prospect of reopening and trying to retain jobs in a few months.
More support needed
Hospitality trade bodies have been pushing the Government to announce more measures for the pubs left out of the grant schemes.
British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) CEO Steven Alton said: “We fully support the call for additional financial help for pubs with a rateable value of over £51,000. For a lot of these businesses, their wage bills are crippling their cash flows, while waiting for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme furlough payments to come through.
“Through our close working group with UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association, the Campaign for Real Ale, the Society for Independent Brewers and Pub is The Hub, we are clear that this message is being taken into Government and will continue to push for all the support that is required to help keep our vibrant industry alive.”
The Morning Advertiser (MA) has contacted the Treasury department asking for further information on why this figure was decided as the cut-off point and will update this story with its response.
It previously told MA that the design of the grant policy had been kept simple to ensure it was deliverable at pace.