A shuttered pub back in March 2020. Some venues haven’t opened since then (Image: AFP via Getty Images)
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Boris Johnson faces an explosion of anger from pubs, music venues and small firms after he delayed the end of lockdown – without any extra financial support.
The Prime Minister tonight announced step four of his lockdown roadmap will be pushed back to July 19 “to save many thousands of lives”.
But hospitality and leisure businesses lashed out after he confirmed there are no plans to extend the furlough scheme or existing business support.
That includes no change to the ban on commercial evictions, which is still due to end on June 30.
The Music Venue Trust warned it was a “crippling blow” and demanded venues get funding they still haven’t received from months ago.
Furlough wage scheme will not be extended although lockdown will continue to affect hospitality industry
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The statement said: “Huge amounts of work will need to go into rescheduling, cancellations, rebooking, refunds and managing customers, staff and artists.
“The delay will cost the sector £36 million, adding to the mounting pile of debt which this crisis has created.”
Greg Parmley, chief executive of LIVE, said: “The Government must provide urgent emergency financial support to those impacted by today’s decision.
“There are hundreds of millions of pounds from the much-vaunted Culture Recovery Fund unallocated, despite being 15 months on from the start of the crisis.
“This money needs to get into the industry without any more delay.”
Currently the government is paying 80% of wages up to £2,500 a month as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – better known as furlough.
Boris Johnson making his lockdown announcement
But from July government contributions will fall to 70% up to £2,187.50, with employers having to pay 10%. They then fall again to 60% up to £1,875 in August and September, with employers paying 20%, before ending altogether.
No10 refused to accept modelling which has claimed the delay could have a £3bn impact on the hospitality industry.
The PM’s official spokesman said: ”As you would expect, there will be an economic impact to further delay.
“At the budget we deliberately extended most support well into the autumn, acknowledging there could be uncertainty in the path of the virus."
But Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chair Mike Cherry demanded a delay to the easing off of furlough on July 1.
He said nightclubs had “gone 15 months without income, all the while doing their best to support their staff, and they have now had their hopes of reopening on 21 June dashed.
“These sectors, and their supply chains, need ambitious and targeted support.”
The British Chambers of Commerce demanded “further cash grants” to business and a cancellation of employer contributions to furlough from July 1.
Co-director Claire Walker said: “This delay to the removal of restrictions will come as a hammer blow to those firms who must remain closed, and to those who continue to see their ability to trade severely restricted.”
UK Hospitality also demanded further support from the government for pubs, restaurants and bars.
Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This four-week delay to lifting restrictions will cost the sector around £3 billion in sales, put at risk 300,000 jobs and have a knock-on impact on bookings throughout the summer and into the autumn.
“Simply put, if the supports provided by the Chancellor are not sustained and adjusted, businesses will fail and getting this far will count for nought.”
Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound, said: “Tourism businesses across the UK are balanced on a knife edge, struggling to remain viable while adhering to restrictions.
“Today’s announcement will put people’s livelihoods at risk and slow down the recovery of our towns and cities.”
Boris Johnson refused to guarantee there would not be another delay beyond July 19.
But he said: "I’m pretty confident that July 19 will be a terminus date”.