Dear BII Members,
I wanted to write to you as we reach the last few days before Christmas, to update you on our actions at this critical time for your businesses.
The festive season represents, for many pubs, almost a quarter of your annual profits in a very short space of time, no matter what type of venue you run. Not only has trade been lost through reduced footfall & cancellations of large parties, you have also been left with fridges full of food and cellars stocked with beer in preparation for welcoming your customers at this vital time of year.
Regardless of the fact that our venues have not been mandated to close, the impact of the caution urged by the Prime Minister and his officials around socialising has been devastating for the hospitality sector in particular. Similarly, the tightening of restrictions developing in the devolved nations, has seen our Welsh and Scottish members heavily impacted.
We know from our survey last week, that the fall in revenue in comparison to 2019 has been drastic for the majority of members, and even since that report, we have seen a continued decline in visits to your pubs, as the public return to working from home once more.
The cash flow crisis in this short space of time cannot be underestimated. You prepared your kitchens, cellars and staff for the busiest period of trading, to help build your resilience into the quieter winter months, and are now left with severely reduced income.
We have been in constant communication with Ministers and officials across all areas of Government, taking your collective voice, but also your individual stories of business fragility, to call for the support that will be needed to enable your businesses to survive and begin your recovery once more in 2022.
We are encouraged by the support announced today by the Chancellor, recognising once more that your pubs are being disproportionately impacted, but are fully aware that this does not compensate you for the lost revenues over the Christmas trading period. Initial announcements are:
- Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, plus more than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses.
- Government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK.
The grants will be based on rateable value as with previous deliveries:
- Up to £15k rateable value - £2.7k
- Up to £51k rateable value - £4k
- Over £51k rateable value - £6k
As ever, the delivery of any support is key in terms of speed and scale, and we are calling on Government to ensure that the cash grants are delivered automatically to venues who have already met the criteria previously set.
We will continue to push hard for your venues to stay open, allowing you to continue to trade freely and fully and we will also be ensuring that the case for medium term support continues to be prioritised, including, but not limited to:
- Full suspension of Business rates – the lost revenues from December trading means that many will have no funds to pay business rates, even at the reduced rate announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget.
- Continued VAT reduction at 12.5% needed through to Summer 2022 at least – whilst hugely helpful for food led venues whilst you are trading, this reduction must now be in place for longer to enable you time to feel the benefit when trade returns to your pubs.
Amidst the huge uncertainty facing your pubs at this time, we want you to know we are doing all we can to support you, both with Government and also with clear, actionable information as and when we have more clarity about any potential restrictions.
Our team have pulled together Support Guides for England, Scotland and Wales, and we have FAQs, all of which are being constantly updated as we get more information to help you navigate the current situation.
We are awaiting the official guidance from Government so that we can give you the detail you will need to claim the grants.
If you don’t already do so, please follow us on social media to get the most up-to-date information as and when we have it. Links for all of our platforms can be seen below.
Our offices will be closed over Christmas, but we will continue to support you remotely via our Expert Helplines and online over the festive period.