Pubs hit by delays in local authority grant distributions
Survey work undertaken by pubs support organisation, the Forum of British Pubs, is highlighting that the pub sector is not only suffering from the Covid hospitality closures, but also from delays they are experiencing in receiving the approved grant support from their local authorities.
Whilst the initial grants in the Spring were distributed relatively promptly with a third of the allocations being made within 2 weeks, those due at the end of 2020 were showing signs of serious slippage.
Of the pubs eligible for the November grant, only two out of ten pubs were paid within 2 weeks, and a further four out of ten being kept waiting for up to four weeks. By December there had been further slippage with less than half the payments actually having been paid by the first week in January.
This matched the delays in distributing the £1000 booster grant, with 49% of respondents reporting that the payment was still outstanding.
A bigger concern still though was that of the 529 pubs involved in the survey, more than two thirds reported that the grants covered less than half of their running costs during the lockdown period, with only 1 in 20 saying that they covered between 75% and 100% of their costs.
The way the grants were calculated also came under serious question in the survey, with three quarters of the pubs saying that linking the amounts payable to business rates was not a good way of calculating what was appropriate.
Speaking on behalf of the Forum for British Pubs, Dave Mountford, a pub owner himself and still waiting for his December payment, said, “Our pub sector has fundamentally had to rely on the government agreed subsidies simply to stay in business, with many finding that even with the grants they will struggle to reopen as their costs have been materially more than the amounts they have received. The delays that have been experienced in receiving the grant support though has made the position much worse. Some landlords have still been demanding rental payments, and the basic costs of just keeping the future of their pubs viable has meant that the delays have exacerbated the strain on their cashflows. We are appealing to local authorities to do all they can to speed up their processes.”
Co-Founder of the Forum of British Pubs, Ian Cass, added, “Looking at our latest survey it confirms our worst suspicions that not only have government completely mismanaged the hospitality sector during this pandemic, but the support offered to the sector has been completely inadequate and reflects a lack of understanding of the sector and its issues!”