Pub bosses mourn lost summer

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Building costs: pub operators are soon set to pay business rates and contribute to furlough costs despite no change to lockdown restrictions (image: Konstantin Balezin / Getty)
Building costs: pub operators are soon set to pay business rates and contribute to furlough costs despite no change to lockdown restrictions (image: Konstantin Balezin / Getty)

Related tags: lockdown, Greene king, Star, Legislation, Health and safety, Football, Business rates

Pub bosses have warned they are in a “highly precarious position” with payments approaching despite continued trading restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a four week delay to plans to ease lockdown restrictions, on Monday 14 June, moving 'freedom day' from 21 June to 19 July.

There have been calls for an extension of business rates relief and the forfeiture moratorium as well as excluding closed businesses from having to contribute to furlough payments. 

Greene King boss Nick Mackenzie warned his business would be forced to pay an additional £250,000 per day when the business rates holiday ends on 30 June.

This would be despite venues losing millions every day in trade because of ongoing restrictions such as social distancing and the rule of six.

Further uncertainty

“Without this support, the sector, which has already been crippled during the last 15 months, will be in a highly precarious position,” Mackenzie said.

“Whilst we understand the need to follow the data, the delay to the roadmap is a huge blow for us and the entire hospitality industry. We now face further uncertainty and must wait even longer before we can start profitably trading, something that we have been unable to do since the start of the pandemic. 

“We also risk losing out on the substantial amount of trade that comes with the Euros, a disappointment for us and for our customers that were looking forward to getting that matchday atmosphere back.”

Managing director of Star Pubs & Bars Lawson Mountstevens called the delay “frustrating” and urged long term changes to help pubs recover including a cut to beer and cider duty. 

“It will be a blow for pubs across the country trading at reduced capacity and for those unable to open currently due to their size or layout, especially during this peak trading period," he said.

Focus on data

“The facts clearly prove that pubs offer a safe environment and millions have been invested making them so," Mountstevens continued. "We all have to learn to live with the virus, and I urge the Government to continue to review a full reopening of pubs and hospitality venues as soon as the data allows.”

Sussex-based brewer and pub operator Harvey’s Brewery had hoped to increase capacity in its venues and make the most out of the EURO football tournament​ and good weather this summer. 

“We won't now get any benefit out of the Euros where I think we probably thought we would,” Harvey’s business development manager Dave Paterson said.

“We'll just have to continue as we are,” Paterson said, with the brewery losing “anywhere between a third and half of the normal turnover” and service costs up as much as a third.

“We lose out of both ends. It's more expensive to service it and there's less trade around,” he explained.

Nottingham-based Great Northern Group operations manager Tom Holodynsky said the Government should introduce another grant for hospitality businesses as well as business rates and VAT support.

Build back stronger

The extra staff demands of restrictions and a recruitment crisis represented “a ticking timebomb” for the sector, Holodynsky said. 

“Our industry needs to reopen in full as soon as possible if it is to survive and thrive and help the nation's economy build back stronger,” he added. 

“It is such a shame hospitality hasn't been seen as a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.”

When asked about the possibility of additional support for the hospitality sector, a Treasury spokesperson said: “We know how important pubs are for local communities.

"Pubs have received Restart Grants worth up to £18,000 per pub to support them with reopening and will continue to benefit from business rates relief worth 75% across the whole year for most businesses, a VAT cut, and the furlough scheme”

Related topics: Legislation

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