Local MP Suella Braverman recently visited the Wicor Mill pub in Portchester, to learn about the Covidsecure measures that are in place to facilitate the safe return of its patrons.
Her meeting with Steve – a representative from Star Pubs, the chain that owns Wicor Mill – and landlords Scott and Chloe was hugely successful, as Mrs Braverman was given a taste of the warm, family atmosphere that makes the pub so popular. Wicor Mill, like so many other local establishments, has benefitted enormously from government support over recent months, and has now implemented the necessary precautions to ensure that it remains a safe environment for all.
Recently, the Chancellor's Winter Economy Plan put in place further support to help tackle the challenges that pubs and other businesses are facing. The Job Support Scheme will help participating businesses ensure employees on reduced hours earn a minimum of 77 per cent of their normal wages, thus helping people across the country to remain paid and employed.
Pubs will also benefit from the temporary reduction of VAT to 5 per cent, which is being extended by a further three months to the end of March 2021. The Chancellor will also defer VAT repayments through a new scheme until March 2022. Businesses are also being given more time to access crucial loans alongside a more flexible repayment scheme for existing ones.
These new measures follow a robust package of support introduced since the start of the pandemic. Indeed, no pub or other business in the hospitality sector is required to pay business rates this year, while HMRC has made it easier to claim back the duty on any beer thrown away as a result of pub closures.
The Business and Planning Act has also made it easier to serve customers outdoors through temporary changes to planning procedures and licensing. The unprecedented Job Retention Scheme has rightly protected over 9 million jobs through the most difficult period of the pandemic, which has been a relief and comfort to many.
Commenting Suella said:
“I understand that this is a very difficult time for the hospitality industry, and I know just how worried landlords such as Scott and Chloe are. Pubs are important to both our culture and local communities, and it has been good to see that many have reopened over recent weeks”.
“It is ultimately thanks to local organisations like the Wicor Mill, who have been following government guidelines diligently, that we are still able to enjoy a drink and bite to eat with friends and family at our local pubs and restaurants. As the country embraces a new tier system, it is vital that the necessary measures are in place to restrict the spread of the virus in pubs – and I am delighted that in Fareham, adherence to the guidelines has ensured we can continue to visit these businesses for the time being.”