Chancellor urged to extend furlough to end of 2020 to save the future of pubs

Rushi Sunak

The British Beer and Pub Association, British Institute of Innkeeping and UKHospitality have sent a joint letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, calling for measures to save the future of pubs including the extension of the furlough to the end of 2020.

The associations wrote the letter following the announcement on 10th May from PM Boris Johnson that pubs in England will remain closed until at least July. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s has also made it clear that the Scottish hospitality sector will not open any earlier.

The associations, who between them represent owners and operators of 35,000 pubs across the nation, asked Chancellor Rishi Sunak for:

–          An extended, more flexible furlough scheme to the end of 2020, tapered to encourage people back to work only when it is safe, and gradually, if appropriate.

–          Removal of the £51k rateable value cap on grant eligibility, to open funds up to the 20% of pub and hospitality companies that represent the bulk of trade and employees.

–          Improved accessibility and eligibility to loans to ensure that businesses can access the necessary funds to survive.

–          Additional support to brewers of all sizes, including on beer duty and access to grants and rates relief.

In a jointly issued statement the three associations said, “There are few things more cherished than the British pub. The current crisis casts an existential shadow over the future of these national treasures and we are calling on the Chancellor to act, before many of them – and their valuable jobs, social benefits and economic contributions – are lost to us for good.

“We know that pubs, hospitality and brewers can be crucial in driving economic recovery. We thank the Chancellor for his support thus far but urge him to enable venues across the country to play their role by opening in a safe fashion, when the time is right. Surviving the crisis can only happen with further support from Government, allowing pubs to not only pull through but deliver future prosperity.”

Scottish finance secretary Kate Forbes and economy secretary Fiona Hyslop have already written to the Chancellor looking for reassurances that the government won’t penalise Scottish workers if lockdown eases at a different pace north and south of the border. In the letter to the Chancellor they said, “We understand that the support will need to be scaled back over time, but it is imperative that is done in a carefully considered way, and reflects the economic priorities of each of the four nations and the different sectors of our economies.”

UKHospitality has also requested the continuation of the 80% furlough pay until the end of September with a tapered scheme until the end of the year, the removal of the three-week maximum period to increase flexibility among reopening businesses and sector-specific part-furlough schemes with pay shared between the Government and the employer.