More than 1,000 UK pubs have signed an open letter to chancellor Rishi Sunak, pleading for more support and a rethink of the 10pm curfew.
The open letter comes after the second Friday trading under the new Covid-19 laws which force pubs to offer table service only and kick patrons out at 10pm.
Unsurprisingly, revenues in the hospitality sector have been hit.
On Friday the Coffer Peach Business Tracker showed the hit to trading had been instant, with drinks-led pubs suffering a record a 15 per cent fall in sales week-on-week.
The letter, organised by the grassroots organisation Campaign for Pubs, follows what it callws “woeful” lack of support from Sunak’s Winter Economic Statement last Thursday.
Its members said the financial impacts of the new restrictions wereboth instant and dire.
The campaign group said some of its members were reporting trading down on Fridays by as much as 70 per cent.
One publican said: “I don’t even want to talk about how soul-destroying last night [Friday] was”.
Another pub manager told the Campaign for pubs: “I’m 25% down from my break-even point for the second week in a row can’t carry losses for too much longer will have to make some decisions Monday.”
The Campaign for Pubs said members signed the letter because there is “real anger among licensees about the 10pm curfew, which has no scientific basis, but which makes it impossible for some pubs reliant on Friday and Saturday night trade to operate profitably”.
Specifically, the open letter calls for:
- Five per cent (or even better zero) VAT on all sales in pubs
- Grants to cover full costs if pubs cannot viably trade due to the current restrictions and have to close temporarily
- A business rates holiday extension, with a complete overhaul for business rates for pubs prior to recommencing
- A statutory right to an immediate rent review for all pubs, to tackle the fact many pubs are facing wholly unreasonable rent levels, considering the Government restrictions and reduced trade
The chancellor said last week that hospitality companies would benefit from measures in this Winter Economic Statement, such as the extension of the business rates exemption until March.