Star Pubs & Bars and licensees make statements on Budget

Star Pubs & Bars and two of its licensees: multiple operator Patrick Fawsley of the East London Pub Co. and Jackie Fairburn of The Hare & Hounds, West Ardsley, Yorkshire, have made comment after the Budget details were revealed.

Lawson Mountstevens, Managing Director, Star Pubs & Bars, Heineken UK, said “We welcome the package of support for hospitality announced in today’s budget including the freeze in beer duty. Continuing the 5% VAT rate until September and further business rates relief together with the new Restart

'Grant scheme provides a much-needed lifeline to an industry on its knees. We’ve done all that we can to help our licensees through the pandemic - investing nearly £50 million in rent reductions.

'It is good to see the Chancellor step up and provide additional support for pubs who are the beating hearts of their communities the length and breadth of the UK, and we hope today’s announcement paves the way for future alcohol duty and business rates reform to help our sector longer-term.”

Patrick Fawley of the East London Pub Co. runs five pubs and bars in central London. Three sites have gardens and terraces and two don’t have any outdoor space. The Gun in Spitalfields, is a Star Pubs & Bars tenancy, with no garden. He is trying to negotiate with the local council to take some available space in an adjacent car park space to create an outdoor area.

Fawley said, “Businesses need to be propped up properly so that they can restart and create meaningful and long term employment. I am relieved by the news of the extension of the reduced local authority rates and very much welcome that VAT remains low.

'Whilst the Restart grants are beneficial, they pale into insignificance when offset against the huge losses of the last 12 months. The public perception is that business owners have loads of support through the furlough scheme, but in reality the level of business support to owner operators is far less than in Ireland or France.

“The extension of the furlough scheme is welcome but it is a sticking plaster. The furlough system needs reviewing so employers can take on staff confident in the knowledge that they’ll be supported if another lockdown happens. We’d like to open three more pubs this year, but we need this reassurance.

'We opened a pub in Soho just before the first lockdown but because it had only been open a couple of weeks the 51 new employees weren’t eligible for furlough, which was devastating for them.

“Local Authorities also need to do their bit and work with local businesses to support and create jobs. We’re currently in negotiation with Tower Hamlets to takeover a carpark to create outdoor space next to our Spitalsfield pub, The Gun, but engagement is poor and they want to charge an exorbitant amount. We all need to work together to revive the economy.'

Jackie Fairburn (pictured) operates The Hare & Hounds, West Ardsley, Yorkshire, the village’s only pub which has the benefit of a large garden.

She said, 'Any help is gratefully received. The new Restart Grant scheme and the VAT and business rate relief extensions are really welcome and will definitely help in the coming months, especially as the hospitality industry has been unfairly floored by covid restrictions.

'I am lucky as I am a tenant and so have had rent support from my pub company, but even with that I am haemorrhaging money. I simply don’t know how others without that support are coping.

'I also have a large garden and so can focus on reopening outdoors on 12th April. I will get through this but sadly many others won’t.'