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‘There’s more they can do’: Hospitality sector asks for better government backing

PUBLISHED: 15:59 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:59 18 March 2020

Richard Bainbridge of Benedicts (inset) said the government can go further to support the hospitality sector. Pictures: GoogleMaps/RichardBainbridge

Richard Bainbridge of Benedicts (inset) said the government can go further to support the hospitality sector. Pictures: GoogleMaps/RichardBainbridge

GoogleMaps/RichardBainbridge

The hospitality industry has welcomed a raft of measures aimed at steadying the industry following the coronavirus outbreak – but said the government could go further.

The Hop In a micropub in North Walsham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Hop In a micropub in North Walsham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Pubs, restaurants and bars have previously spoken of their “heartbreak” that customers have been told to stay away by the government.

MORE: ‘We will remain open’ - Pubs fighting to stay open amid coronavirus social distancing

However chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that he was extending the business rates holiday to all firms in the hospitality sector and was also funding grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 for small businesses.

The news was welcomed by Richard Bainbridge of Benedicts Restaurant in Norwich, but he said there was more to be done.

He said: “Of course these measures are very welcome – but the grant of £25,000 would cover the wages I pay for a month. That’s before you add in rent, electricity, paying suppliers.

“What would be really helpful is if they suspended National Insurance or pension contributions for four or six months. That’s money that a lot of businesses already have put away to give to government that could be used if we knew we could keep it.”

He added: “I’ve never had a business loan either, so when the government said they’d be offering them at very ‘reasonable’ rates my question is ‘What does that mean?’.”

Bullards Gin is the distiller operating out of the Ten Bells, which is also in St Benedicts Street.

Chairman Russell Evans said: “People are popping in on their lunchtime and are so relieved we’re still open. We spoke to our bank this morning following the announcement, but although all this money has been announced we’re still not sure how to go about getting it.”

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In North Walsham, Richard Cornwall of micropub Hop In, said: “We’re too small for some of it to really impact us – we were already exempt from a lot of things because of our size.

“Of course these measures are very welcome, but I’d like to see some support longer term. I don’t know what it would look like, but something that when all of this is over would increase the public’s confidence to come in.”


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