Derby landlord outraged as tier 3 ‘continues to cause his business to suffer’

A Derby landlord has been left outraged as he says tier 3 restrictions continue to cause his business to suffer.

Yesterday we reported Matt Hancock’s announcement on tiers which meant Derby and Derbyshire would remain in tier 3.

Tony Williams, 63, owner of the Bishop Blaise and the Bless, believes that the hospitality industry has been unfairly treated since the first national lockdown in March.

He said: “During the first lockdown we couldn’t claim any support as we were above the rateable threshold.

“This time around we’ve been given £3,100 a month for support during lockdown along with a £1,000 one off payment from the government.

“We were gob-smacked at how insulting it was. As an impact to our survival it’s barely a drop in the ocean. I am completely frustrated by the lack of support.”

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Tony’s pubs are entitled to this additional grant because they are wet-led pubs, meaning that they do not serve food. But Tony described the grant as “insulting, derisory, completely irrelevant and contemptuous.

As a limited trading company, Tony says that he has been unable to be furloughed, but that if he were, his earnings would be more than the £1,000 grant the government has given him to aid his survival.

The Bless and Bishop Blaise were also unable to take advantage of the eat out to help out scheme or the reduced VAT on food.

While 20 weeks of closure has severely affected Tony’s businesses financially, he has also spent a lot of additional money to ensure that his pubs were safe for patrons when they were first able to return.

He said: “Our staff budget increased by about 40%. I had extra staff in to greet customers, make sure they had track and traced, send them to a table, monitor them during their visit and then clean down the table before more people could be seated.

“That massive increase in cost was compounded by a big decrease of sales performance.”

The Bless’s seating capacity was reduced from 400 to 160, meaning that Tony had to spend more money on staff to be less profitable.

He also says that the 10pm curfew was “catastrophic” for his pubs trading and severely reduced revenue.

Not only has he found the support he has been offered frustrating, he also worries for his part-time staff who are on minimum wage.

He said: “A large percentage of the hospitality industry are young people on minimum wages, why should a 20 or 21 be footing the bill to beat the pandemic on behalf of other people who clearly haven’t been affected by it?”

During the first lockdown, Tony provided the previous three months wages for his part-time staff to create an average furlough wage for them due to their variable hours.

When asked to do this again for the second lockdown, because his business was not able to run at full capacity, some of these staff had worked less and as a result their new furlough wage decreased putting them in an even more difficult position.

Tony is worried about the future of his pubs and has said that he is looking into renovating the kitchen in the Bless to serve food.

He said: “During the closure I have been having a small kitchen area refurbished, seeing the writing on the wall and possibly future necessities,

“I’m very close to a kitchen refurb and the potential at some stage of supplying food at some stage soon.”

Courtesy of Derbyshire Live – Derby News