'I’m still concerned about the recovery': South Tyneside hospitality businesses react to Rishi Sunak's Budget

Hospitality businesses in South Tyneside have welcomed certain measures announced as part of the Government’s 2021 budget, but fear Rishi Sunak’s highly-anticipated announcements are insufficient to address the longstanding problems facing the sector.

Mr Sunak’s plan included a much-debated corporation tax hike, grants of up to £18,000 for hospitality and leisure businesses, and furlough payments will be extended until September and the cut in VAT will also remain in place over the coming months.

Hospitality bosses in South Tyneside welcomed some of the latter measures, as they gear up for April or May reopenings after the unveiling of the Government’s lockdown exit roadmap last month.

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But traders at licensed premises have questioned whether the Chancellor’s new measures provide enough support to ensure their businesses can become viable once again, and still hold grave concerns over the future for their businesses and for the sector more broadly in the area.

Lakeside Inn manager, Carl Mowatt (above); Ziggy's Bar owner, Stephen Sullivan (below, left); Lee Hughes, of the Red Hackle pub in Jarrow (below, right)

Ahead of his establishment’s planned reopening in May, the landlord at the Red Hackle pub in Jarrow, Lee Hughes said: “He hasn’t put up the price of beer or fuel, although I imagine he might double it up next year to make up for that.

"Although some of these measures will help, I think the Government has a long way to go to make up for the mess they’ve made of hospitality.”

Stephen Sullivan, who runs Ziggy’s Bar in South Shields, said the budget was “not as bad as we’d feared”, but he remains concerned over the future of the borough hospitality sector.

"I welcome the corporation tax announcement,” he said.

Lee Hughes, at the Red Hackle pub.

“It’s obviously going to hit bigger companies than ours and I think it’s a good thing that they are contributing more to relieve some of the debt we’ve accrued during this crisis.

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"But we’re still in this unknown period when we’re not trading yet. The freeze in alcohol duty helps on the one hand but there are other costs that will come for us as a result of this budget.

"Yes, we get these grants – but it doesn’t even cover the rent we have to pay on our premises. Although we welcome any sort of assistance, they don’t go very far.

"I’m still concerned about the recovery of the hospitality trade in particular in South Tyneside.”

Meanwhile, Lakeside Inn manager, Carl Mowatt, said: “The extension in furlough helps, as does the VAT announcement.

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"Some rent relief or a freeze on rents would’ve helped us, as we’ve been paying rent all the way throughout the pandemic. But unfortunately that wasn’t in there.”

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