A ‘DERISORY’ financial package offered to closed pubs in Barnsley has been blasted by fed-up landlords and labelled an insult - after government ministers revealed each would be given just £1,000.
The announcement - made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson - came during a debate on the controversial new tiered restrictions which came into force on Wednesday.
Barnsley, which is in the strictest tier three bracket, saw its non-essential shops reopen but its pubs and restaurants remain closed - much to the dismay of landlords given the town’s plummeting coronavirus rates and it being their busiest month of the year.
A token one-off payment of £1,000 - which equates to £32 a day - was subsequently offered to so-called ‘wet’ pubs such as Paul McNicholas’ trio of bars in the town centre.
Paul, who owns Annie Murray’s, neighbouring 00 Bar and Hill 16, said: “December is always our most profitable month as people get into that Christmas spirit and there’s New Year’s Eve just after.
“Those few weeks tie us over into January, which is always our hardest month, so we were absolutely banking on the government allowing us to reopen after the four-week second lockdown period.
“That would have allowed us to claw back trade this weekend, but it’s just a carry on of that lockdown.”
The Prime Minister said the payout was to recognise ‘how hard they have been hit by this virus in what is typically their busiest month’.
A spokesman from Barnsley’s branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) told the Chronicle the situation was bleak - and believes widespread closures are on the horizon as landlords struggle to make ends meet.
“The reality is that the level of grants available to pubs, even if they qualify for the extra £32 a day, doesn’t even cover fixed costs and rent, never mind the disastrous loss of December trade,” they added.
“For many pubs this is busiest month of the year, with revenue from December seeing many pubs through the tough winter months of January and February.
“Without more support, many pubs businesses will simply not survive.
“The government’s decision to severely curtail the trade of all pubs and to specifically close wet-led community pubs at this crucial time of year will have dire consequences for an industry and supply chain that is already on its knees, and the Prime Minister’s derisory offer of a one-off £1,000 payment will make no tangible difference to that situation.
“The support package on offer still falls well short of covering basic costs for the vast majority of pubs, let alone compensating them for any of the trade that is being denied them over the vital festive period.
“Despite the enormous contribution pubs make to the welfare of our communities, the wider economy and the public purse, the government simply do not value our precious pubs enough to do what is genuinely required to preserve them for the future.”
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Financial package a ‘kick in the teeth’ to town’s closed pubs
Author: Josh Timlin
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