Wet-led pubs that are unable to trade due to coronavirus restrictions will be given a one-off payment of just £1,000 from the government in December.
Announcing the measures in Parliament today Boris Johnson said this was to recognise “how hard [pubs] have been hit by this crisis in what is typically their busiest month”.
“We will do everything in our power to support our hospitality sector in this crisis,” he said.
Pubs in England that do not serve food will unable to open if they are in Tier 2 or Tier 3 areas under the new coronavirus restrictions from 2 December.
But trade bodies warn the grant will do little to cover the costs of businesses facing closure.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said: “A so-called Christmas bonus for drinks-led, community pubs worth £1,000, on its own, is simply nowhere near enough to stave off thousands of pub closures.”
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said the £1,000 payment was so low it barely counted ‘as a token gesture’.
“Equivalent to just 1.1% of last year’s takings, it falls far short of the bare minimum required to keep these businesses alive,” she said.
“The government’s entire approach to this lacked any sliver of logic, as evidenced by the farcical debate around Scotch eggs over the past 24 hours. There needs to be a much clearer and supportive approach from the government and this means providing far more support immediately.”
Last week the bosses of more than 50 pub and brewing companies, including Greene King, Heineken and Marston’s, wrote to the prime minister warning that the sector faces ‘ruin’ without more generous support. The letter called for the government to provide pubs with ‘more sustainable’ grants of £3,000 – £12,000 a month based on their rateable value, at a minimum.
Under Tier 2 rules in England pubs will be unable to serve alcohol unless it accompanies a ‘substantial meal’. However, cinemas, theatres and sports stadiums will be able to sell alcohol without food if it is consumed while sat down watching the screen or event.
MPs are due to vote on the tier system later this evening (1 December).
News Source: The Caterer