Chancellor Rishi Sunak will use his keenly anticipated Budget on Wednesday, 3 March, to announce a new package of “restart grants” worth between £8,000 and £18,000 per premises to assist restaurants, pubs, bars, and cafes which will begin a phased reopening after lockdown from 12 April.
The grants will be allocated to businesses based on the value of its property: Properties with a rateable value (that is the estimated annual rent) of £15,000 or under will receive £8,000; for those worth between £15,000 and £51,000, the grant is £12,000; and those with a value of £51,000 or over will be eligible for a grant of £18,000.
An additional £425 million has also been added to the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) fund to help those not receiving the grants.
Lobby group U.K. Hospitality has “warmly welcomed” the package, saying at the weekend the support was “critical for businesses to survive.” It caveated its thanks with a(nother) reminder to the Chancellor that more was needed from the Budget if there was going to be a “successful hospitality revival.”
Restaurants and pubs and their representatives unanimously agree that as well as money, they need the VAT rate cut to be extended throughout the rest of this year, similarly the business rates holiday, and the furlough wage support scheme for staff members unable to work as a result of lockdown.
Kate Nicholls, U.K. Hospitality chief executive said: “This announcement is great news for hospitality businesses that have been struggling to see how they could survive through to the Prime Minister’s reopening dates. Cash reserves have been severely depleted after a year of closure and restrictions and these grants are a very welcome boost, putting the sector in a better place to restart.”
Nicholls also highlighted “the urgent need” for grants to reach all hospitality businesses as quickly as possible, pointing out that previous grants had been delayed by “bureaucratic processes,” — with businesses reporting that only 37 percent of grants announced in January had been paid out a month later.
“It is absolutely critical that the grant funding is put into the hands of hospitality business owners as quickly as possible,” Nicholls said. “Businesses are crying out for the cash now so there can be no further delays which might make it too late for some.”
Like others Nicholls then urged the Chancellor to underpin the cash grants with the structural support measures that all across the hospitality industry are key to survival. “While this is a positive step it needs to be part of a wider package at the Budget that includes an extension to the 5 percent VAT rate for a full year and a business rates holiday through 2021/22,” Nicholls said.
“Without these measures, and full furlough while we re-open, the hospitality sector’s recovery will be stunted along with our ability to start tackling unemployment by creating jobs.”