The announcement of the lifting of Plan B restrictions has been broadly welcomed by hospitality, but there is a long way to go to full recovery.

pub golden bitter

With VAT set to return to 20% and business rates payable, albeit at a 50% discount for hospitality in 2022/23, there could be tough times ahead for many businesses. An end to isolation will help ease staffing problems, though.

And the instruction for workers to return to offices is a major step towards getting footfall back in town and city centres. A number of pubs in London’s City area have been closed for some time.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said it was vital that the government came up with a plan for living with covid as an endemic disease.

“After yet another setback and numerous false dawns, now is the time to support the sector for the long term, with measures that will enable pubs and brewers to thrive as the heartbeats of our local communities and economies,” she said.

“We are urging the government to act now and extend the current lower level of VAT for food and beverages sold in pubs with a view to making this permanent, implement alcohol duty reform proposals that encourages consumption of beer as a lower-strength product, and introduce business rates reform that reduces the disproportionate burden paid by pubs and levels the playing field with online businesses.”

Reslience and entrepreneurialism

Incredibly, thehospitality sector grew a little in the last quarter of 2021, according to the new Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and Alix Partners. Notably, there was 1.8% growth in independent venues.

Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “The increase in sites over the last three months of 2021 shows the remarkable resilience and entrepreneurialism of hospitality, and the enduring appeal of Britain’s pubs, bars, and restaurants.

“But after disappointing December trading, and challenges mounting, both new and established businesses are vulnerable as we begin 2022. These positive numbers show how hospitality is ready to kickstart Britain’s post-covid-19 economy, but without urgent and sustained government support there is a real danger that recovery will stall.”

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