Closed pubs 'may lose out' on government grant scheme because of loophole, Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce fears

Pubs forced to shut for lockdown may miss out on much-needed cash because of a loophole in the government's grant scheme, it's been suggested.

By David Spereall
Wednesday, 11th November 2020, 9:54 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th November 2020, 10:00 am
Pubs across England have been forced to shut again after the second lockdown came into force last week.
Pubs across England have been forced to shut again after the second lockdown came into force last week.

Martin Hathaway, from the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said he was concerned that some landlords may be able to exploit the scheme at the expense of local boozers who desperately need the financial help.

Mr Hathaway, whose work covers the Wakefield district as well as Halifax and Huddersfield, said the problem was a "national" one and explained that landlords would effectively be able to claim their rates twice over because of the way the grants system has been designed.

Speaking at a meeting of Wakefield's Covid recovery board on Monday, Mr Hathaway said the result could be, "a lot of grants will not go to the businesses that are actually affected".

Martin Hathaway is managing director of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

He added: "If you look at many of the large pub chains, or even the smaller pub chains, they'll rent their property, inclusive of rates, direct to local landlords.

"They'll still have to pay their landlords that rent and rates bill, but the landlord will be able to claim the grant, potentially from the local authority.

"Therefore the landlords will be the beneficiary, even though they can still take the rates from the business occupying the premises itself.

"It's a national thing and I'm not sure what you (the board) can do about it, with the amount of work involved.

The second lockdown is due to end on December 2, though it is not yet known whether pubs in Wakefield will be allowed to open again straight away after that date.

"But we could see a lot of money not going to businesses who actually need it at this time."

Wakefield Council has been told it will get £7m in government funding to help cover local businesses affected by England's second lockdown.

In response, council leader Denise Jeffery said: "I'm not sure what we can do, but there will be a lot of upset and people will be very concerned about this.

"We'll have to see how it pans out, but it is concerning."

Local Democracy Reporting Service