Government withdrawing £1bn in possible funding for pubs ‘short-sighted’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Sector support: BBPA boss Emma McClarkin said using the money to help struggling pubs was a "no-brainer"
Sector support: BBPA boss Emma McClarkin said using the money to help struggling pubs was a "no-brainer"

Related tags: Finance, Government, British beer & pub association, Local government association

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has backed calls from the Local Government Association (LGA) to ringfence £1bn in grant funding that would otherwise be clawed back by the Government to help pubs affected by lockdown.

According to the LGA, the Government has written to councils saying it will shut the Small Business Grants Fund; Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund; and the Discretionary Grants Fund this month (28 August), with any unclaimed money returning to the Government. It estimated more than £1.37bn of grant scheme funding will be lost.

The BBPA backed the LGA’s call for the funding to stay available so councils can redistribute unspent grants to reinvest and support businesses through the crisis.

The trade association said this would mean councils can continue to support pubs and other businesses severely impacted by lockdown, especially those with a rateable value of more than £51,000 that were unable to claim the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants.

Support needed

The LGA said councils had worked to distribute almost £11bn to almost 880,000 eligible small businesses through the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund since March.

It also said the Government deadline to shut the Discretionary Grants Fund, which was introduced in May, will not allow enough time for the remaining grant to be paid out.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Our sector may have reopened but it is far from out of the woods yet.

“Our pubs still need all the support they can get and many are still waiting on it so withdrawing £1bn in possible funding is short-sighted to say the least."

Continuing struggle

She added: “The Government should be focused on supporting businesses like pubs that can help the economies of local communities grow, not withdrawing vital funding at a time when 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 [rateable value] were too high.

“Rather than clawing back this money, it is a no brainer to use it to help those businesses that have either fallen through the cracks or are continuing to struggle.”

Related topics: Legislation

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