THOUSANDS of pubs will shut for good if business rate relief introduced in lockdown is not extended, industry bosses are warning.
Boozers face a total bill of £800million — about £25,000 a venue — if relief is scrapped in March.
They say that a third of pubs are struggling to make ends meet post covid.
They are calling for more help when business rate relief ends next year as new figures show almost a quarter of pubs, bars and other licensed premises were still closed.
Nearly 27,000 licensed premises are yet to reopen, with just 68.2 per cent of independent pubs according to consultancy firm AlixPartners.
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Ending the Business Rates relief for pubs and handing them a bill of £800 million – an average of £25,000 per rate paying pub – could be the last straw for thousands of pubs.
“Given that all these pubs made it through the lockdown – over 15 weeks without being able to open their doors – and have remained viable businesses despite social distancing and significantly lower footfall, it would be devastating for them to fall at the final hurdle in the post-lockdown recovery.
“It would mean much of the Government’s vital support for the sector through lockdown would have been wasted. This is why we are asking the Government to extend the relief and help protect our great British pubs and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they support.
“Investing in our pubs now will enable them to survive and thrive into 2021 and beyond, help lead the economic recovery and generate a larger tax revenue for the Government in the future.
Karl Chessell, director for food and retail at CGA, said: “After the sector’s toughest ever spring and early summer, it is pleasing to see more than 15,500 venues reopened over August, but concerning that nearly one in four licensed premises are still shut.
“The Eat Out to Help Out scheme and VAT cut had the desired effects of encouraging more operators to reopen and stimulate trade, and there was some pleasing progress for the casual dining restaurant sector.
“However, new restrictions on gatherings, slow London footfall and the risk of local lockdowns all give cause for caution as we move into the autumn.”
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