Demands have been made for “decisive action” to help save pubs, restaurants and hospitality businesses in the West Midlands.
Mayor Andy Street has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for increased grant support, VAT cuts and other measures to help businesses facing a “crippling blow”.
Tier 3 restrictions are a “disaster” for pubs in Coventry and Warwickshire, the local branch of the Campaign for Real Ale has said.
The news that the region would be facing the strictest Tier when national lockdown is lifted later this week came as a shock to many, particularly in parts of south Warwickshire where Covid-19 rates are relatively low.
Mr Street said the move came at a time when the hospitality industry was already facing an “acute crisis” and that the situation is even more critical with businesses now facing restrictions at a time of year which is normally their most profitable.
“Unless action is taken, many of these businesses across the West Midlands could face a crippling blow,” he said.
Pubs and bars which don’t serve food are most at risk, he added, citing industry figures that around 80 per cent of these venues will be put in a “perilous position” over the coming months.
Plus larger and medium-sized businesses such as restaurants and hotels “cannot survive on monthly grants capped at £3,000,” he argued.
“Without the prospect of a support package that scales to meet their size, many will go to the wall, as will the suppliers that depend on them.”
Mr Street made suggestions as to how the Chancellor could take action to help businesses.
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- Providing relief in the short term by increasing the value of grant support
- Longer term measures designed to give businesses confidence for the future, including extending business rates relief, VAT cuts for the sector beyond March and providing relief for BID levies. He also suggests a deferral of these payments and working with lenders to make repayment terms for existing Covid support loans as generous as possible.
- Additional support measures for the sector including working with property owners and tenants to find an equitable solution to the challenge of unpaid rent and evictions.
Mr Street concluded: “Throughout this crisis you have acted quickly and decisively to support this crucial sector.
“Now, as we enter its final months, we must request this further urgent action.
“Your support now will ensure that these businesses and livelihoods are protected, and that the help that you have already provided does not go to waste.”