Lockdown 2.0 'nightmare before Christmas'

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

In need: pub trade demands more support in second lockdown
In need: pub trade demands more support in second lockdown

Related tags lockdown Coronavirus Boris johnson Legal Legislation Bbpa ukhospitality Siba

England's month-long lockdown has been described as a "nightmare before Christmas", with pubs and suppliers to the sector in need of support in addition to furlough.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tonight (Saturday 31 October) announced England would be placed under a second ​national lockdown for one month.

Shortly after Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak gave some relief in the form of an extension to furlough and £1.1bn​ of additional financial support.

However, industry representatives have said much more support is needed if pubs, other hospitality businesses and suppliers to the sector are to survive.

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) said its members would face "a nightmare before Christmas" without an extension of hospitality industry support.

SIBA chief executive James Calder said: "The extension of furlough to December will come as a small relief to breweries, which will keep people in jobs and support them through these difficult times.

"However furlough funding cannot alone keep business who are struggling due to unfounded restrictions afloat."

Devastating impact

He continued: "The evidence clearly shows when pubs are told to close the impact on small breweries  is devastating, with small brewery sales during the first lockdown down 82% on average across the UK.

"Small breweries still have rent, business rates, beer duty and VAT payments coming up – if they are unable to trade, then they cannot pay these."

Chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association Emma McClarkin warned thousands of pubs would be lost forever if financial support did not exceed that of the first lockdown.

"As a sector we are of course devastated to have to close our pubs and are fearful for their future, but we recognise the situation and that the spread of Covid-19 is serious.

"Make no mistake, this could be the final straw for thousands of pubs and brewers. It will also create major disruption to our supply chain partners whose businesses are now also at severe risk.

"The level of financial support will need to be same, if not greater, than that provided for the first lockdown earlier this year. This means grants for all pubs sufficient to cover ongoing fixed costs, and compensation grants for Britain’s brewers who will also be permanently devastated by the lockdown.

"The news of the extension of the full furlough scheme for this lockdown period is welcome, but we await the full detail of it, and will need a full support plan far beyond the lockdown period to save our great British pubs and brewers."

Campaign for Real Ale national chairman Nik Antona said the sector was already on its knees and that pubs had already invested thousands of pounds into reopening in a Covid-safe way.

"Simply put, a new lockdown couldn't come at a worse time," he said.

"The Government must introduce a robust support package for all pubs and breweries – regardless of their current rateable value.

"While an extension to the furlough scheme is welcomed, it does not go far enough."

More details needed

He continued: "We need more details of how much support will be offered along with a clear roadmap out of lockdown to ensure local jobs and businesses are not lost forever."

Meanwhile, UKHospitality warned the cost of a second lockdown to hospitality businesses would be heavier than the first.

"The sector was hit hardest and first, and this recent shutdown will hurt for months and years to come," a spokesperson said.

"The extension of furlough for a further month does help to protect our workforce during this difficult time.

"If hospitality, the sector that is our country’s third largest employer, is to survive and help drive economic recovery, it will need equivalent – or more – support than that of the first lockdown.

"Hospitality businesses have already been pushed to the limits, with many closures already.

"For those that have survived, viability is on a knife edge, as is the future of the tens of thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend on hospitality, including through its supply chain, right across the country."

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