Thank you for contacting me about the support needed for the hospitality sector and for expressing your thoughts and concerns. I am extremely sympathetic to the thrust of what you say and I share your concern about the future of pubs and the hospitality sector following the hardship caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
I can assure you that I have been lobbying the Government hard throughout the pandemic for increased sector specific support for hospitality and I remain a strong supporter of our local pub trade here in Woking. It is clear that the economic effects of fighting COVID-19 last longer for businesses than the duration of any given restrictions, and we need to go further with our support.
It is, therefore, reassuring that the Chancellor has unveiled further economic support for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, including pubs. New one-off top-up grants have been announced, worth up to £9,000 per property, to help businesses through to the spring. The new one-off grants come in addition to billions of pounds of existing business support, including grants worth up to £3,000 for closed businesses, and up to £2,100 per month for impacted businesses once they reopen.
In addition, to protect jobs, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until April in response to coronavirus restrictions, and to give people and businesses across the whole United Kingdom the certainty they need. Under the extension, the Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 with employers paying employer National Insurance Contributions and pension contributions only for the hours the employee does not work. This comes on top of existing support measures, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme which subsidised 100 million meals through August 2020.
Moreover, no pub or other business in the hospitality sector will be required to pay business rates in the 2020-21 financial year, regardless of their rateable value. This applies to over 350,000 properties and is worth almost £10 billion. The HMRC has also made it easier to claim back the duty on any beer thrown away as a result of pub closures, which I know was a concern for many.
I also welcome that the temporary reduction of VAT to 5 per cent has been extended by a further three months to the end of March 2021 which has supported more than 150,000 businesses and 2.4 million jobs. Additionally, the Chancellor will defer VAT repayments through a new scheme until March 2022.
Finally, the Government has extended the deadline of the Government-backed loan schemes, such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) to March 2021. These loans have already supported over 1.43 million businesses with loans totalling £44 billion. For businesses that have already taken out a BBLS loan, there is additional flexibility on paying it back under a new Pay as You Grow scheme.
I have noted your strong views about the need for the hospitality sector to play an integral role in our recovery from the pandemic and I completely agree. I am assured that the Government is in constant consultation with hospitality businesses and various pressure groups and is establishing a longer-term plan to ensure the future prosperity of this vital industry.
I will continue to follow any developments closely and ensure that the demands of many hospitality businesses here in Woking continue to be heard at the highest levels.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this very important matter and I hope this response has provided some useful information and assurance.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking