Billions of pounds have been made available to businesses and employees in the weeks following the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, including grants, loans and staff furlough through the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Despite current levels of help, operators remain sceptical about ongoing support once they are given the go-ahead to reopen and are doubtful they will be able to turn a profit running their businesses under social distancing measures.
Not be able to survive
Most pubs, when asked in an exclusive survey by HIM/MCA for MA, said they would not be able to survive if sales dropped by more than 10%, with many respondents citing social distancing rules as the most likely reason for a fall in sales.
A further poll revealed most pub businesses would need ongoing Government financial support to help them return to profit, which, for the majority of operators, was unlikely to happen for at least two years.
However, speaking to a senior Government source, MA understands there are plans to continue financial support for the trade in the long term by potentially working directly with hospitality businesses, which will be hit hardest by social distancing rules, until they can return to normal trading levels.
The Government is working with a series of hospitality business groups, as well as small and medium-sized businesses and unions to understand the ongoing pressures the sector will face.
It is also learning from how the sector has stepped up to make the most of takeaways and deliveries, and is looking to adapt its workplace coronavirus guidance for pubs.
If the sector has to open with fewer tables and less footfall, economic support is likely to work in line with such guidance and taper off gradually to ensure the balance between economy and public safety is maintained.