The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has conducted a survey of licensees to discover the reality of accessing Government grant support for their pubs. With results varying wildly from one local authority area to another, the consistency of delivery of these vital funds has given a further challenge to cash strapped licensees.
The overly complex requirements for applying for these funds, has meant that less than 1 in 4 pubs have received the full payment of grants they were entitled to during the Autumn and Winter months of 2020.
In particular, the grants designed to support pubs who could still open, but with very severe restrictions on their trade, (Local Restrictions Support Grant – OPEN) have caused confusion in local authorities and a delay or even denial of funds for the licensees who have had little or no income in 2020.
In addition, 1 in 7 licensees have yet to receive a single payment into their banks from grants they are entitled to.
Steven Alton, CEO of the BII commented:
“This survey has confirmed that there are very different experiences for licensees claiming these essential packages of support, depending on where they are based in the country. 80% of the respondents of this survey are single site operators, but for those running pubs across several local authority areas, the stark contrast from one local authority to another can clearly be seen. Some are getting it right first time, with swift payments and great communication, whilst others have not even made applications for grants announced months ago available on their websites.
“Whilst there are many areas of concern, there are also some examples of local authorities who have gone above and beyond to support their local hospitality businesses, through excellent communication, easy-to-navigate application processes online, and swift payments into accounts, as well as full utilisation of their discretional grant funding to specifically help pubs. They are setting the standards that should be expected of all local authorities, but can also surely provide valuable lessons for those struggling to cope with the complexity of the grant system.
“We have taken our findings to the heart of Government, to call on them to make the process as simple as possible for all, and to support local authorities who are clearly struggling to cope with the additional demands placed on them.
“The other clear message is that our pubs need a full package of measures to support their recovery going forwards. 80% of our respondents believe cancellation of Business Rates for 2021/22 is critical to enable them to plan for the survival of their pubs once they are allowed to reopen. Similarly, 64% believe it is also critical to continue the reduction of VAT at 5% for the rest of the year, whilst almost as many believe this reduction should also apply to alcohol served in their venues.
“These additional measures, announced as soon as possible will give our licensees the ability to plan for the future of their pubs, and become an essential part of the economic and employment recovery of our nation.”