Pubs, restaurants and bars in Coventry need more financial backing amid fears possible Tier 2 restrictions could lead to further job losses.
Cllr George Duggins, the leader of Coventry City Council, has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of a joint-call from West Midlands leaders urging for more financial support for the region’s industry.
Currently hospitality venues in the city must close at 10pm, but should Coventry be placed in Tier 2 then households will be banned from mixing inside.
Pubs in the area have previously raised concern over their future.
Emma Topsom, landlady of The Brickmakers Arms in Balsall Common, criticised the 10pm curfew as “crazy”, while Michelle Gilmour, landlady of Coventry’s oldest pub the Old Windmill in Spon Street, said another lockdown would be the “final nail in the coffin”.
Industry body The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has also warned Tier 2 restrictions could “decimate” pubs and lead to permanent closures without further financial support.
Cllr Duggins said: “As a group of seven leaders we are writing to Rishi Sunak as we do believe that the hospitality sector, although not facing the same restrictions as up north, we do believe there should be a package for the sector because of the fact it is struggling at the moment.
“If you look at the prospect of moving into Tier 2 the notion that households can’t meet within restaurants, public houses and bars are likely to see a further problem for the hospitality sector.
“The hospitality sector is just beginning to get off the initial 14-week shock of lockdown and despite the ‘eat out to help out’ there’s still a bit of a struggle. This we believe will effectively put further pressure onto the hospitality sector and would probably I guess lead to job losses. Whether it leads to businesses closing I couldn’t say but I would venture to say it would lead to job losses.”
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has sent a letter to Mr Sunak asking the government to increase contributions to the job retention scheme in the hospitality sector, as well as more grants and tax breaks.
“Under these new restrictions many businesses will struggle to cover costs and will have to resort to redundancies,” he warned.
“This could amount to a closure by default, if not by law. This risks an avoidable domino-effect across local economies.”
The government said a temporary VAT reduction for hospitality venues is being extended till March 31, alongside four loan schemes until November 30 and a new ‘Pay as you Grow’ option for borrowers to repay loans over a period of up to 10 years.
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A HM Treasury spokesman added: “We’ve put in place a comprehensive plan to protect, support and create jobs in every region and nation of the UK, with more than £200bn of support since March.
“And our Winter Economy Plan will ensure this continues in the difficult weeks and months to come – providing a toolkit of support for all situations.
“Our expanded Job Support Scheme will protect jobs in businesses that are open or closed, we’ve increased grants for firms required to close and are providing additional funding for local authorities and devolved administrations. This is alongside existing support measures including extended VAT cuts, businesses rates holidays and our extended loan schemes.”