This follows the delay to the fourth step of the Government’s roadmap reopening plan meaning social restrictions will now not be lifted until Monday 19 July – four weeks later than planned.
It has been estimated the delay will cost pubs £400m and, as a result, the industry leaders have urged the Prime Minister to push back the reintroduction of business rates payments, which would cost the sector £93m in just July and the trade bodies labelled “crippling”, by at least three months.
The letter also stated that across the hospitality sector, one-in-four businesses or 26,000 remain shut and average trading for those able to partially reopen is at just two thirds (63%) of usual trade while fixed costs have increased to ensure compliance with ongoing restrictions, which were described as “untenable”.
In addition, they also called for the additional £1.5bn business rates support package, announced in March, to be prioritised in a bid to ensure eligible businesses such as brewers can apply as soon as possible.
Yet another setback
Fellow trade associations including the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), the Independent Family Brewers of Britain (IFBB) and Pub is the Hub also signed the letter.
A spokesperson said: “Our sector is facing one of its toughest periods in its history and this latest delay is yet another setback.
“Many pubs cannot break even under current restrictions and about 2,300 still remain closed. It is now absolutely critical the Government provides our sector with further support – else the recovery of our pubs will be over before they’ve even been given a chance.”
The letter in full:
Dear Prime Minister,
Reopening of pubs and hospitality and business rates support
As I am sure you can understand, our sector is bitterly disappointed that the Government was unable to stick to the commitment of removing all restrictions on the 21 June.
It is no understatement to say that brewers, pubs and the wider hospitality sector had been looking to that date as the point at which their recovery could begin.
This is because they cannot break even under the current social distancing restrictions. This is yet another setback in the toughest of periods. We understand the Government’s reasons for pursuing this course of action and that public health remains the priority, but that does not change the fact that our businesses will be suffering acutely for another extended period.
It is of paramount importance that this is the last such extension to these measures and that there is reassurance of this. The recovery is being held back, this delay will cost pubs alone £400m for this initial four-week period and there will inevitably be an additional cooling effect on consumer confidence, which was already incredibly fragile.
The summer months are crucial to see pubs through the year. There also remains a large number of pubs, around 2,300, that are still been unable to open at all due to a lack of usable outside space and insufficient inside space to make social distancing work. Indeed, across the wider hospitality sector, one in four businesses or 26,000 remain closed and average trading for those open is at just 63% of usual trade.
At the same time, fixed costs have risen to ensure compliance with the ongoing restrictions. This is untenable. The absolutely critical immediate term issue for our sector following the latest delay is the repayment of business rates in England, which commences either partially or fully from 1 July. This was clearly aligned to step four of the roadmap.
We urge that your Government now delay the reintroduction of business rates payments by at least three months to allow pubs and hospitality businesses in England to recover the additional losses that will now be incurred in this period. The additional bill of some £93m in July alone will be crippling.
The Government should also prioritise the additional £1.5bn business rates support package that was announced in March to ensure eligible businesses such as brewers can apply as soon as possible.
While the delay sets back our recovery, we remain ready and willing to work with the Government on the longer-term hospitality strategy.
We will continue to work with your teams to deliver stability and growth for the sector, once the short-term immediate needs have been addressed to prevent business failure and job losses.
We can be partners in the Government’s aim to level up the economy and build back better the UK’s nations and regions. As ever, we remain available at your convenience to discuss the important matters raised above.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association
Tom Stainer, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality
Steve Alton, chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping
James Calder, chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers
John Longden, chief executive of Pub is the Hub
Rick Bailey from the Independent Family Brewers of Britain