20,000 venues to miss out on lockdown grants, trade bodies warn

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) and UKHospitality (UKH) have written to chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to loosen State Aid restrictions, so that around 20,000 hospitality venues don’t miss out on vital lockdown cash grants.

Until recently, state aid rules directed by the EU meant that businesses could only receive up to €800,000 (£720,000) of cash support from the Government, which many businesses had already reached.

However, since 13 October, the rules have changed enabling severely impacted businesses such as those in hospitality up to €3m (£2.7m) in state aid.

Multiple operators of pubs and hospitality venues are therefore missing out on this vital support. According to the trade bodies, an individual pub or restaurant could have claimed a £25k grant in May 2020, but a multiple pub or restaurant owning business would have been capped at claiming for a maximum of 28 sites.

The trade bodies estimate that businesses hit by this rule employ around half of the hospitality workforce – over one million people.

Despite this, they warn that the Government hasn’t confirmed if it will allow businesses to access extra funds that would provide the help they “desperately need”.

In a joint statement they said: “Unfortunately, without applying changes to state aid restrictions, some 20,000 hospitality venues and pubs will not receive the grants the Chancellor has rightly promised them.

“Without the grants, many pubs and hospitality businesses will be lost forever and half of the hospitality workforce – over one million livelihoods – will be at risk.”

They added: “The Government is hiding behind these EU rules which it has the ability to change. This cannot be the Chancellor’s intention, so he must now take advantage of the changes to state aid rules to immediately unlock the grants our sector desperately needs.

“If action is not taken by the Government or the Chancellor, thousands of businesses and over one million jobs will be at risk throughout the winter and might not survive to the spring and the economic recovery.”

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