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BII calls on the Chancellor to extend support to pubs following member survey

The BII has sent a letter to Rishi Sunak, detailing the results of their member survey and the impact that Coronavirus has had on the livelihoods of licensees over the last 6 weeks.

As the leading professional membership body for individuals working in the licensed trade today, the survey reflects the voice of licensees up and down the country and highlights the need for continued and extended Government support for pubs. The results gave a clear message for the BII to take to the Chancellor, with detail surrounding those still in need of financial help, as well as the concerns around reopening their businesses amidst continued social distancing.

The comprehensive survey (35 key questions) received over 300 completed responses revealing areas of concern which the BII has categorised below:

Access to Government Grants
BII members, with over 80% operating a single pub, continue to struggle to access grants. At this time 65% have now received their eligible grant. Importantly 20% of members are not currently eligible for a grant as their rateable value is above £51k. The BII therefore is urging the Government to tackle these issues urgently; re-clarify with the local authorities the need for urgent payment and provide essential grants for pubs with rateable values over £51k.

Access to loans
Only 3% of BII members have received a loan via the CBILS scheme. They remain very concerned on taking further debt into low margin businesses and 45% have chosen not to apply at this time. For those that have applied, Banks in the CBILS scheme have been very reluctant to lend to pubs. The BII has said that it hopes that the Bounce-Back Loans announcement may help rectify this situation. 
Around 30% of members are waiting for the self-employment support payable in June, however, 50% of members are not eligible for any additional Government support.

Job Retention Scheme (JRS)
In line with the Chancellor’s call to businesses to look after their teams when JRS was introduced, 90% of members have furloughed team members with only 11% having made redundancies. 88% have applied for their furlough payments with 7% having been paid.

Continuation of Government Support
There is further work required to ensure that the first phase of Government support is delivered The BII states that Government briefings have led them to believe that pubs will be uniquely subject to a further significant period of disruption and last to re-open.

BII members have raised key concerns around potential requirements with reopening:
– Ability to implement any social distancing protocols and maintain them in pubs
– Bear the costs of reopening; replenishing stock & higher staff costs to manage protocols
– Being able to operate profitably at significantly reduced turnover

If this is the case then the BII believes that there will be a requirement to further support pubs beyond the end of June with both grants, JRS and loans. For those pubs that are able to partially re-open there is a need for tapered relief and for those that cannot, then the full current support will need to continue. 

Pubs in the Community
Pubs have shown over the last few weeks their core role in their communities providing much needed groceries, takeaway meals and specific support for the most vulnerable in society. All of this activity has been driven by doing the right thing and not commercial gain. In fact most of the 16% offering takeaway and delivery services has resulted in less than 10% of their normal turnover.

Chief Executive, Steven Alton commented: “It is clear that whilst some of our members have been helped by the economic support measures Government has put in place, many others have not yet received that relief, and over 20% of our members with rateable values over £51k are not even eligible for the cash grants.

“The BII is continuing to support its members as individuals, however, it is also our role to ensure Government are made aware of the challenges that continue to face licensees as they try to keep their businesses alive.”