Pub industry 'on its knees' amid Covid-19 crisis

Pub owners have issued dire warnings as Suffolk and Essex was placed in tier 2 restrictions Picture

Pub bosses in East Anglia have called for more support for hospitality businesses - Credit: WAVEBREAKMEDIA LTD

Pub landlords with their livelihoods on the line say they have been let down as a result of declining government support - leaving the hospitality industry "on its knees".

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he needs to spend public finances in a way which is “sustainable over time” - admitting he is “sad” he could not save every business “even given how much we’ve thrown at it”.

PA REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2020 File photo dated 22/10/20 of Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak host

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak - Credit: PA

Chris Mapey, a pub landlord and Conservative councillor, said he had taken on £100,000 of debt during the pandemic to cover his costs and feels "let down" by the government's response.

"Let down is the best way of putting it," he said.

"We don't have the option of being open for a click-and-collect, like Next or Carpetright. 

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"We as publicans do not have that luxury. We are not even allowed to use the off sales part of our licence to do takeaways."

Pub landlord and Conservative councillor Chris Mapey

Pub landlord and Conservative councillor Chris Mapey - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mr Mapey said he agreed with the chancellor that public finances needed to be sustainably managed, but called on the government to "speculate to accumulate".

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He said: "I would suggest that the best way of balancing the books moving forward is ensuring the livelihood of the 3.8million taxpayers who are employed in the hospitality sector, by giving those businesses appropriate grant funding."

Andy Wood, chief executive of Southwold-based Adnams, said the hospitality sector was “on its knees” - with questions swirling about further job losses.

Andy Wood, chief executive of Southwold brewery Adnams

Andy Wood, Adnams chief executive - Credit: Adnams

Mr Wood said: “The hospitality sector is on its knees at the moment.

"It’s on its knees because it was the first in and last out of lockdown number one. Then it was the first thing that got locked down in lockdown two and it hasn’t really come out of lockdown two.

“It’s an important part of the economy. It employs it lots of people and we want it to recover, don’t we?

“Public health is paramount, but then we need to make sure the business navigates it way through. And to make sure we save as many jobs and to save the pubs.

“We haven’t lost a pub yet. But, we have had to say goodbye to about 5% of our colleagues which is a tragic shame.

“By and large the job cuts have been natural wastage, but there have a couple of compulsory redundancies as well.”

Andrew Mower, the East Anglian development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, called for support to be extended in order to stop firms from closing.

He said: “The new grants for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are very welcome, but the small business community is much bigger than those three sectors.

“We need to see similarly targeted interventions to support firms in the supply chains and those without commercial premises.

“We also hope the government will consider our proposal for an income support scheme for company directors, and that the next round of payments to the self-employed can be extended to those who started their businesses more recently.

“Without further action now, we risk losing businesses that would ultimately be viable, at huge cost to communities and livelihoods.”

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