More pubs and restaurants at risk of collapse as councils retain £300m in grants Business

Pubs and restaurants face another threat to their survival after less than half of a £635million government support package was paid out to struggling businesses.

Figures compiled using official data suggested that, by the end of February, hotel bosses had received just £305million of the cash pledged by the Treasury to help them ride the winter wave of doomsday. ‘omicron.

The one-off grants were announced in December as a lifeline for businesses as Covid swept the country again, leaving many pubs and restaurants understaffed and struggling with cancellations. Local authorities had been tasked with distributing the grants, which amounted to £6,000 per business.

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, unveiled the scheme at the time, saying: “I know the current situation is very difficult, especially for those in the hospitality industry.”

Some 200,000 hospitality and leisure businesses were due to receive grants to offset an average 40% drop in revenue following the government’s Plan B restrictions.

However, the latest figures compiled by the Altus Group suggest that as many as 29 councils had not distributed any grants by the end of February. The scheme closed in mid-March and had to make all payments by March 31.

Robert Hayton, UK Chairman of Altus Group, called the scheme a ‘postcode lottery’ and said: ‘These types of businesses have seen one of their most valuable trading periods wiped out and simply haven’t didn’t get the support they needed fast enough.”

It comes as pub and restaurant chefs warn they are now on the brink, as the Chancellor withdraws further Covid support schemes. Last Friday, the VAT rate was reduced to 20% for the sector, compared to 5% at the start of the pandemic and 12.5% ​​more recently.

Many are also struggling with record inflation, seeing their energy bills and food costs soar.

Robert Cook, managing director of TGI Fridays owner Hostmore, said the sector was suffering a “quadruple whammy”.

He said he had hoped Mr Sunak would pause on plans to return the VAT to pre-pandemic levels. “I thought it was something he could concede. I was quite disappointed with that.”

Last week, Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry body UKHospitality, said removing the “lifeline of a lower VAT rate could prove fatal” for many businesses in the sector.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-04 07:00:00

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