The UK Government has announced a £1,000 “Christmas” grant for pubs that do not serve food and therefore must remain closed across almost the whole of the country.
Unless you are in Cornwall or the Isle of Wight, pubs which do not serve food – known in the industry as wet-led pubs – are not allowed to open under the new system of tiers which has now come into force.
In a statement, the government said; “Pubs that predominantly serve alcohol rather than provide food have been asked to make huge sacrifices over the festive season and will be eligible for a one-off £1,000 to help make ends meet.”
What is pretty clear from that sentence, is that the government hasn’t got a clue about the pub industry. £1,000 does not get you very far at all, in fact, even for small community pub, that’s not going to cover it’s TV sports subscription for the month.
That’s probably a bad example, but I just happen to know a local pub where it’s Sky Sports & BT Sports package – already massively discounted – is £990 per month.
Other costs that the public don’t think of when it comes to pubs, but that landlords must still pay even whilst closed, include insurance, replenishing stock which is going or gone out of date, and utility bills – the electricity needs to remain on for all the fridges and coolers to keep working.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Pubs are at the heart of communities across the country and they have been among the businesses which have suffered the most during the pandemic.
“While we can’t make up for all the trade they will lose over Christmas, I hope this new £1000 grant – on top of the furlough, VAT and business rates relief and existing grants, goes some way to help them weather the economic storm.”
What the Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak need to quickly realise is that running a pub is a lot harder and a lot more expensive than they seem to think it is.
It is about time that they spoke to landlord’s directly, taking their advice on what they need, rather than pandering to the lobbying of big pub companies.
The pubs grant idea is a good one, but it needs to be targeted, and actually of use to the many “one-man band” landlords across the country.