winter economy plan

Jobs plan 'doesn’t go anywhere near far enough' for pubs

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

More urged: 'full support to sustain people in their jobs during what could be a pretty bleak winter for hospitality would be a great step forward,' says UKH CEO Kate Nicholls
More urged: 'full support to sustain people in their jobs during what could be a pretty bleak winter for hospitality would be a great step forward,' says UKH CEO Kate Nicholls

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The Government’s freshly announced Job Support Scheme has been criticised as not going far enough to protect pub jobs.

Read more about the measures announced by the Government here:

Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined economic measures for the six months ahead today (Thursday 24 September) to help businesses as they “face uncertainty and reduced demand over the winter months”.

Workers will continue to be paid by their employers for the hours they do work. For hours not worked, the Government will contribute one third of their equivalent salary - with the employer paying the other third.

So, an individual who can only go back to work on fewer hours will be paid two thirds of the hours for those ‘lost hours’.

They must be working at least one third of their usual hours to qualify for the scheme.

The level of grant will be calculated based on the employee's usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month.

The job scheme will launch from 1 November and run for six months.

Industry voices have said this will not do enough to protect jobs, with pubs facing slashed operating hours and sales down as a result of Government messaging.

Bleak winter

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls called the announcement of flexible employee support “a move in the right direction,” but said the sector needed specific support.

She said: “Almost 1m people in our sector are still on furlough. We need the Government to go further in hospitality, recognising the greater restrictions imposed upon us, and pick up the full cost of unworked hours. This would be a relatively low cost for a huge reward for our workforce. 

“Full support to sustain people in their jobs during what could be a pretty bleak winter for hospitality would be a great step forward.”

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, was disappointed with the measures, which have come after a raft of new restrictions on the sector including a 10pm curfew.

She added: “Some elements of the Chancellor’s plan are welcome, but do not go nearly far enough to save the thousands of pubs and jobs that we have highlighted are at serious risk.

“The new flexible Job Support Scheme is needed considering that the furlough scheme will end next month, but with a lower level of funding from the Government that will cost employers more, we are not confident it is enough to protect jobs in the current trading conditions. 

“We will need to closely monitor the effectiveness of this scheme with our members and invite the Government to work with us if changes to the scheme are required.”

High and dry

What’s more, The Morning Advertiser​ editor Ed Bedington has called on the Chancellor to “ride to the rescue once again” with further support.

He said: “An industry that was bending over backwards to ensure a safe and responsible, slow return to normality, complying with all that has been asked of it, has now once again had one arm tied behind its back, if not both, and is being left high and dry by the people that inflicted this unfair situation on it.”

Pub company executives have also expressed their dismay at the announcement.

Nick Mackenzie, Greene King chief executive, added: “The industry is still dealing with the crippling aftereffects of the nationwide lockdown and the cumulative effect of the new restrictions, combined with the singling out of pubs, mean the measures announced by the Chancellor don’t go far enough, especially for drink-led city centre pubs.”

Adds to challenge

Kevin Georgel, chief executive, St Austell Brewery said the announcement was welcome but “doesn’t go anywhere near far enough for hospitality.”.

He said: “With significant cuts in operating hours and revenues, thousands of jobs are still at risk, due to the greater restrictions we’re now working under. The vast majority of hospitality businesses are still losing money or struggling to break even. Paying our teams to work part-time only adds to this challenge.

“While today’s announcement was a step in the right direction, we need more support that specifically targets the hospitality sector, which has been hit harder and for longer than other industries. Crucially, this includes Government support in helping to restore consumer confidence.”

His words come as operators have reported they have been upping the number of staff members on shift to meet stricter restrictions including table service only.

Additional measures the sector has called for include an extension of the business rates holiday and a cut to beer duty.

Related topics: Legislation

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