Boris Johnson has announced that all wet pubs will be given £1,000 to help them out in what would normally have been their busiest time of the year.
The Prime Minister said that all pubs which do not serve food will be given the funding to ‘recognise how hard they have been hit’ by measures designed to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Under looming new rules, pubs will be forced to close under tier three – which come into force when England’s lockdown ends tomorrow – but can operate as take aways. Venues that are open in tier two must serve a ‘substantial meal’ with any alcohol they sell – amid discussion over whether a scotch egg or two counts.
But as soon as Mr Johnson announced the move, industry representatives said it was not enough cash for pubs to head off ‘financial armageddon’.
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Defending support for the hospitality sector during a Commons debate on Covid-19 this afternoon, the PM reeled off a list of support already announced, and told MPs: ‘Today we’re going further, with a one-off payment of £1,000 in December to wet pubs – that’s pubs that do not serve food.
‘Recognising how hard they’ve been hit by this virus in what is typically their busiest month.’
The British Beer and Pub Association has already criticised the amount of support offered.
Simon Emeny, the chief executive of brewers Fuller, Smith and Turner, added that the one-off payment will not be enough to save many wet pubs.
‘A thousand pounds really doesn’t really go any way to solving the financial armageddon that many individual and independent operators are going to face,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One.
‘The challenge for wet-led pubs is if they don’t sell food they will find it impossible to operate, but you have still got bills to pay.
‘They have still got to pay potentially rent, insurance costs, national insurance and the apprenticeship levy. That is far more than £1,000.’
Pubs across the UK have been battered by various lockdowns and other restrictions amid the pandemic, which has seen footfall drop dramatically and fears grow that many could close for good.
Mr Johnson added: ‘We will also work with the hospitality sector in supporting their bounce back next year.’
Huff Post reported that the Chancellor Rishi Sunak was ‘blindsided’ by the move, with Mr Johnson struggling to contain a Tory rebellion of as many as 70 MPs.
It comes as the PM looks to ward off a Conservative rebellion over his post-lockdown plan.
Labour has said it will abstain on the vote.
MPs are due to vote on Tuesday on measures that would put 99% of England’s population into the tough measures of tier two and three.
Pubs will only be allowed to open in the second tier if they can act as a restaurant, while those in the third will only be permitted to serve takeaway.
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