Industry leaders across the hospitality and licensed on -rade sector have welcomed the chancellor’s commitment to a top up of discretionary grant funding and the release of a £1.5 billion package to support the supply chain, as well as statutory sick pay support.
The rent moratorium also remains in place and commercial landlords have been asked to show patience with struggling hospitality tenants.
Commenting, Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality CEO, said: “This is a generous package building on existing hospitality support measures to provide an immediate emergency cash injection for those businesses who, through no fault of their own, have seen their most valuable trading period annihilated.
“It will help to secure jobs and business viability in the short term, particularly among small businesses in the sector, and we particularly welcome the boost to funds for the supply chain and event and business catering companies so badly affected by the reintroduction of work from home guidelines.
“It is a generous top up emergency fund in addition to previous support and with a commitment from Ministers to prioritise hospitality and its supply chain in allocation of funds. There is now a real urgency in getting this funding to businesses so we urge local authorities to prioritise distribution of funds to make sure jobs and businesses are preserved through this difficult period.”
Steven Alton BII CEO said: “It is encouraging to see the Chancellor once again recognising the unique part that pubs play in both the economy and in every community. The support he has announced is hugely welcomed as our members running pubs across the UK are now struggling to pay the bills with reduced levels of trade. They are facing increased costs through inflation and with most of our members having built up over £50,000 of pandemic specific debts, they now have extensive debt repayments to be made.
“Critical to their short term survival is cash flow and this support in the form of cash grants is hugely welcomed. They will however, now need ongoing support particularly with business rates and an extended period of low VAT as their recovery will be significantly extended due to the lost trade from Christmas.”
National Chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale Nik Antona said: “Today’s announcement of grants of up to £6,000 and some help with staff sick pay will certainly be welcomed by publicans up and down the country. It is a first step in the right direction – and important recognition from ministers that the actions of government have massively hit consumer confidence, footfall and the ability for businesses to turn a profit at what should be their busiest time of the year.
“Sadly for some pubs that have already closed their doors due to cancellations and a huge drop in trade, this support will be too late. Whilst the grants announced today may help businesses through the next few weeks, it will not make up for losing out on the Christmas trade which is vital for keeping pubs and breweries going during the quiet months at the start of the year.
“In addition to getting these grants paid to licensees as quickly as possible, it is vital that local councils in England use their discretionary funding to support breweries, cider producers and other businesses in the supply chain who have also been affected.
“Businesses still desperately need certainty on what might happen next. If further restrictions are going to be imposed there needs to be enough time for pubs and breweries to plan and prepare. In the face of any restrictions on trading, the sector will also need a comprehensive support package over and above what has been announced today, including further employment support through furlough, rent support and business rate relief to support and safeguard our locals.”
Jane Pendlebury, the CEO of HOSPA, the Hospitality Professionals Association, said: “As an industry, we’ve been on tenterhooks since the Omicron variant emerged, with the pressure and concern ratcheting up considerably in the last few weeks and days. The move by the Chancellor then is a hugely welcome relief, and, from initial appearances, it looks like a generous package, which we’re enormously grateful for – as we have been for the supportive measures for our industry throughout the pandemic.
The worst aspect of recent weeks has been the uncertainty and ambiguous messaging, which has heavily dented consumer confidence and already caused enormous damage to our industry. These measures though will go some way to stopping the rot – albeit already being too late for some. Hospitality has been buffeted mercilessly by the winds of the pandemic and unfortunately, despite this assistance, our rough ride shows no sign of abating anytime soon.”