St Albans pubs call for urgent financial support to survive in New Year

Sean Hughes, landlord of The Boot.

Sean Hughes, landlord of The Boot, is calling for urgent government help for St Albans pubs to weather the latest lockdown measures. - Credit: Archant

The Save St Albans Pubs campaign has urged the government to provide increased financial support to ensure they can re-open next year following the district's move to Tier 4.

The city's hospitality industry closed due to the arrival of Tier 3 last week, but the situation has been escalated by the new status.

The group says it fully supports all “Medically Advised Closures” but expects a well-managed response to this emergency.

Campaign spokesman Sean Hughes, landlord of The Boot and owner of Dylans, said: "We urge the Government to think long term about the way we can safely re-open again in 2021 without having to go into further lockdowns and until we get to that point we urge them to give more financial support.

"We are all in this together.

"A significant number of our pubs have remained closed since the November Lockdown and those that have managed to re-open are trading at 10-30 per cent of normal capacity.

"This is not sustainable and moving into Tier 3 caused enormous losses as pubs had to stock up ahead of the Christmas period wasting thousands of pounds.

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"We have since moved into Tier 4 and we are in crisis. We do not see the end to this current Tier with this new strain of the virus and we expect the restrictions to continue beyond March.

"We are asking for urgent help now, not after it is too late. Businesses cannot afford to take on further debt. "

Following the latest lockdown the campaign is asking the Government to increase the Discretionary Grant Funding to local authorities who are working with and know their local businesses in order to get cash to those that need it.

"Our pubs and High Street urgently need the funds to ensure we have a High Street at the end of this crisis. Some business rates have been repaid by supermarkets and other companies unaffected by the pandemic to the Government and we urge them to use this money to increase the funding available to local authorities."

In the New Year the campaign will be pressuring the government to support zero business rates for pubs, hospitality and high street businesses from 2021-2022, a further 12-month deferment for Corporation Tax and VAT, and the continuation of a 5 per cent rate of VAT on food but also extended to include alcohol sales for 2021-2022.