Chief Executive of Fuller, Smith & Turner, Simon Emeny, has expressed his anger at the Prime Minister’s advice to people on Monday to “avoid pubs, clubs and theatres.”
“The Prime Minister’s advice (on Monday) puts us in an absolutely impossible situation. His reckless attitude is effectively forcing pubs to close without a clear instruction to do so and with no financial support, putting jobs and pubs at risk forever. In many cases, these pubs may never reopen and, in the immediate future, many people will be left without an income to live off.
“As an industry, we need a comprehensive package of financial measures to see us through these unprecedented times – especially to prevent those businesses with low cash reserves from terminal closure. These measures should include a payment holiday on Business Rates, HMRC payments and VAT.
“In light of the ambiguity of Mr Johnson’s statement, at Fuller’s we are currently reviewing all of our pubs on a site by site basis to decide whether to remain open or not.
“The pub plays a crucial role in the community – it will be hard enough removing that lifeline by closing them temporarily. I urge the Prime Minister to give us the support we need to make sure that closure does not end up being permanent.”
On Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:
“For those venues which do have a policy that covers pandemics – the government action is sufficient to allow them to make claims.”
But the Association of British Insurers quickly hit back with their own advice:
“The vast majority of firms won’t have purchased cover that will enable them to claim on their insurance for their business being closed by the Coronavirus. Standard business interruption cover… does not include forced closure by authorities.”
Their statement went on to say that while some companies might have purchased an extension to cover insurance for closure due to infectious diseases, any payments “will depend on the precise nature of the cover they have purchased.” As a new disease, Coronavirus is highly unlikely to be included in general insurance.
Further to last week’s budget, the Government has now offered all businesses in the hospitality industry a business rates holiday, irrespective of their rateable value. Acknowledging on Tuesday that some sectors were facing “particularly acute challenges”, the Chancellor said the government would do “whatever it takes” to deal with Covid-19 outbreak.
“I am also extending today the business rates holiday to all businesses in those sectors irrespective of their rateable value. That means every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant and any other businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector will pay no business rates whatsoever for 12 months”.
Grants and loans
In the same address he said there would be cash available to struggling businesses in the hospitality industry:
“I announced last week that for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £51,000, they will pay no business rates this year. Today, I can go further and provide those businesses in those sectors with an additional cash grant of up to £25,000 per business to help bridge through this period”.
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