The council’s offer of a further £1,000 to Leicestershire’s pubs – thought to be the only pledge of its kind in the country – is intended to keep people in jobs, support pubs as the focal points of their local communities and help them to diversify and provide extra services to residents.
At the time of writing, the region finds itself in tier three of the Government’s Covid alert system meaning that pubs are required to close and can only operate takeaway or delivery service.
Leicestershire County Council’s pledge comes after the Government announced a £1,000 Christmas Support Payment for wet-led pubs on 1 December.
“Pubs are often the beating heart of a small, rural community – and hospitality has taken a big hit during the pandemic,” deputy leader of Leicestershire County Council Blake Pain explained.
“We’ve ploughed almost £3m into supporting community groups and small businesses – and want to go further. That’s why we’re doubling the money provided by the Government and offering £1,000 to help struggling rural pubs.
“We recognise their plight – and want to do all we can to support them through these tough times. We’re hoping to start awarding money as early next week so I’d urge pubs which meet the criteria to get in touch.”
The council’s pub pledge builds upon more than half-a-million-pounds of Government funding – Leicestershire’s share of £63m from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – given to food banks and community groups this autumn.
What’s more, Leicestershire County Council also launched a £2.1m fund to support communities as well as establishing a£750,000 fund supporting small businesses to get back on their feet during the ongoing pandemic.
The authority’s grant top-up scheme has been publicly lauded by the BBPA which represents around 20,000 of the country’s pubs.
“We welcome Leicestershire County Council’s innovative approach to providing additional financial support for the county’s small rural wet led pubs which will be unable to open over the festive period,” BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said. “Hats off to them for responding in our pubs’ hour of need.
“We have been calling on the Government to increase the £1,000 one off payment for pubs impacted by the tighter restrictions, highlighting that it is not enough to cover local pubs fixed costs let alone compensate for the loss of the business over the crucial Christmas and New Year trading period.
“I am pleased that Leicestershire County Council understands the vital social and economic role that local pubs play in their local communities and is willing to offer more support to help their rural pubs survive this bleakest of times and continue to warmly serve their communities in the future. I would encourage other County Councils to follow suit and Government to take note.”
The news comes after a Chester-based multiple operator told The Morning Advertiser (MA) that he is pursuing a total of £26,335 in Covid grant funding from 15 different local authorities – with one yet to process any payments at all.
What’s more, recent figures from the BBPA found that the average Welsh pub will receive four times as much grant funding as Scottish sites and more than three times that of the average English pub during the festive period.