Prime minister urged to intervene over delay in hospitality grant payments

19 January 2021 by
Prime minister urged to intervene over delay in hospitality grant payments

The government and local authorities are facing growing criticism over the slow payment of winter lockdown grants, with thousands of hospitality businesses still yet to receive a penny.

A survey by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) found that 46% of its members are still waiting on grant payments for the November lockdown.

And just one in four wet-led pubs have received the £1,000 one-off payment promised by Boris Johnson to support venues closed over the Christmas period.

The money is being distributed by local authorities, and while some have been quick to issue funds several operators told The Caterer their councils have yet to open applications for certain grants.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said the situation was "completely unacceptable".

She added: "It is unbelievable that so many pubs are still waiting on their Christmas grants and grants for the second lockdown. Considering we are now in a third lockdown it is scandalous.

"The prime minister personally promised some of these grants for wet-led pubs. We implore him to now intervene and ensure his promise is delivered."

Earlier this month chancellor Rishi Sunak announced further one-off payments of £9,000 to help businesses survive through spring, but numerous hospitality operators told The Caterer they are still waiting on grants from last year.

Business owners said they were frustrated at the amount of paperwork required and lack of communication from some councils.

The BBPA is calling on the government and local authorities to work more closely together to ensure future grants are delivered to pubs at pace.

McClarkin said: "Publicans across the country are desperately checking their bank accounts every minute of every day to see if they have got their payment. Our sector is hanging by a thread, so for many pubs getting these grants is the difference between surviving or closing for good."

A government spokesperson said last week they were working with local authorities to ensure funds were paid "as quickly as possible".

The BBPA survey had responses from 33 members who own 4,200 managed pubs and 8,700 leased and tenanted pubs.

Photo: Shutterstock

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