The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) revealed today that a survey of its members showed nearly 50% are still waiting for the “emergency” LRSG top-up grants meant to help venues get through tier restrictions and the November lockdown to reach their bank accounts.
The BBPA survey also found 74% of wet-led pubs are yet to receive the additional £1000-per-pub one-off grants for venues forced to close pre-lockdown over Christmas.
The association called on the Government to speed up delivery of these “vital lifeline” grant payments to pubs, as pub giant bosses told the Standard that their firms have to date received only some grant payments due.
The findings came as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) wrote to Rishi Sunak and recommended that the Government urgently “work with local authorities to ensure existing discretionary grants are in businesses’ bank accounts by the end of February 2021”.
There is increasing noise and concern from leaders of big and small businesses alike over the lack of prompt payment of emergency support grants for struggling, shut-down or severely hampered firms.
Today the association insisted that it is imperative all grants are “delivered immediately”.
Body chief executive Emma McClarkin said that “for many pubs getting these grants is the difference between surviving or closing for good”.
The Chancellor announced back in late October that local authorities would distribute up to £3,000 per month in grants to firms forced to close - or which were being “severely impacted” - by the November lockdown.
This was followed by an announcement on January 5 that firms could apply, again through the same process, for up to £9,000-per-property in grants as part of a £4.6 billion lockdown support package.
McClarkin said: “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.
“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.
“Government and Local Authorities must work more closely together to ensure future grants are delivered to pubs quickly.”
Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Britain's oldest brewer Shepherd Neame, which owns and operates 319 pubs across London and the South-East, told the Standard that the CBI's demand of a February 28 deadline for payments to reach firms is a "good target", as "some grants are coming through but there is a lot more bureaucracy this time that is slowing the process”.
Young’s boss Patrick Dardis told the Standard that none of the Government’s latest one-off support grants, worth up to £9,000 per property with a rateable value over £51,000, have been received.
A spokesperson for the Government said that it is working “closely" with local authorities “to ensure that funds are paid out as quickly as possible to those that need it”.
He said: “We understand these are extremely challenging circumstances for businesses. We are working closely with Local Authorities, who are responsible for administering these grants, to ensure that funds are paid out as quickly as possible to those that need it.
“Businesses can continue to access our grant schemes as part of one of the most comprehensive and generous packages of business support in the world that we have put in place, worth £280 billion.”