Boris Johnson announces every ‘wet pub’ forced to close under new tier restrictions will get a £1,000 grant in December as hospitality chiefs blast it is nowhere near enough to tackle the ‘financial armageddon’ facing many firms
- Boris Johnson has announced fresh support for the hospitality sector hit by tiers
- The PM said all ‘wet pubs’ forced to close because of tiers will get £1,000 grant
- Comes amid growing concerns that many pubs will not survive the tier system
The Prime Minister said pubs which do not serve food will be eligible for the cash to recognise ‘how hard they have been hit by this virus in what is typically their busiest month’.
Mr Johnson said pubs, bars and restaurants are the ‘heart of our communities’ but he admitted they had been forced to carry a ‘disproportionate share of the burden’ during the Government’s efforts to slow the spread of the disease.
The cash payment was immediately criticised by furious hospitality bosses who said it was nowhere near enough to address the ‘financial armageddon’ faced by many firms.
Hospitality chiefs immediately criticised the £1,000 payment and said it would not be enough to save many struggling firms
The Government’s three tier system of coronavirus rules is set to be rolled out tomorrow as it replaces the four-week national lockdown.
The trade body Hospitality UK had predicted that three quarters of firms in the sector would not survive life in the top two tiers.
Pubs and restaurants in Tier Three are permitted to serve takeaway customers only.
In Tier Two, people from different households cannot sit together indoors. In a further restriction, alcohol can only be served with a ‘substantial meal’, dealing a crippling blow to pubs that focus on drink sales.
Tier One is the only level that allows indoor socialising and applies to just Cornwall and the Isle of Wight, covering just one per cent of the population.
Mr Johnson told the House of Commons this afternoon: ‘We all accept that the burden on the hospitality sector has been very great and we feel this deeply because our pubs, our hotels, restaurants, they are in many ways the heart of our communities and part of the fabric of our own identity as a country.
‘Everybody can see that the hospitality industry has borne a disproportionate share of the burden in this crisis. There is no question about it.
‘That is obviously because we want to keep schools open and we have to take such measures as we can.’
The Prime Minister tried to dampen anger as he pointed out that other European countries like France and Germany had imposed even tougher restrictions on their hospitality industries.
He said the Government ‘will do everything in our power to support our hospitality sector’ in the coming months.
‘We have already extended the furlough scheme for all businesses until the end of March, we have provided monthly grants of up to £3,000 for premises forced to close and £2,100 for those that remain open but have suffered because of reduced demand,’ he said.
‘We have allocated £1.1billion for local authorities to support businesses at particular risk and today we are going further with a one-off payment of £1,000 in December to wet pubs, that’s pubs that do not serve food, recognising how hard they have been hit by this virus in what is typically their busiest month.
‘We will also work with the hospitality sector in supporting their bounce back next year.’
The British Beer and Pub Association had already criticised the amount of support being offered by the Government.
Simon Emeny, the chief executive of brewers Fuller, Smith and Turner, said the £1,000 payment will not be enough to save many wet pubs forced to remain closed under the new rules for England.
‘A thousand pounds really doesn’t really go any way to solving the financial armageddon that many individual and independent operators are going to face,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One.
‘The challenge for wet-led pubs is if they don’t sell food they will find it impossible to operate, but you have still got bills to pay.
‘They have still got to pay potentially rent, insurance costs, national insurance and the apprenticeship levy. That is far more than £1,000.’
The idea of extra cash for pubs was floated by Downing Street with rebel Tory MPs over the weekend, leaving the Treasury blindsided yesterday by reports that Rishi Sunak was poised to open the chequebook again.
A deal was hammered out between the Chancellor and Boris Johnson only yesterday morning.