Northampton's night life venues say budget will see them through to end of lockdown

"It's fantastic to be honest... I feel positive about the future again."

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 3:04 pm
Northampton's night life economy has been waiting to see if today's budget will help them see through to the end of lockdown.

Northampton's pubs and nightclubs say they can now picture their way out of lockdown this summer following today's budget.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak today (March 3) announced how the Government will spend its money in a bid to help the UK flourish when restrictions come to their expected end in June.

Among the measures are a string of promises aimed to get pubs, restaurants and nightclubs back on their feet.

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It includes a freeze on the price pub-goers will have to pay for a drink, grants for businesses to stay afloat for the final months of lockdown and a rates holiday extended through to the end of June.

It comes after the owner of Bridge Street nightclub NBs, Marc Sawer, last week told the Chronicle & Echo if his industry didn't get support in the budget businesses like his "wouldn't make it to June".

Today, Marc said following the budget: "It's fantastic to be honest. I feel we've been looked after as much as possible.

"NBs will be eligible for nearly all of the £18,000 grant, which should see us through until we're allowed to open.

"I feel positive about the future again. It's still frustrating as we just want to get open but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Other measures include that the reduced five per cent VAT for hospitality will be extended until September 30, before rising to 12.5 per cent until April next year. The furlough scheme will also continue until September.

Hospitality and leisure will also pay no business rates for three months, then rates will be discounted for the remaining nine months of the year by two-thirds. Mr Sunak claims this amounts to a £6bn tax cut.

"Restart" grants will also be made available of up to £6,000 for non-essential retailers and up to £18,000 for hospitality. A new loan scheme is also being launched backed by the Government for £25,000 minimum.

However, industry figures are already concerned the £18,000 grants will not cover the running and furlough costs of pubs.

Northampton publican Gary McManus, who runs several venues across the town including the Wig & Pen, the Brampton Halt and Thomas Beckett, said the measures were positive but it would take more time to decide how far it would help.

He said: "The things they could help us with they looked to helped us with.

"From a furlough point of view we're grateful but we also hope to think we won't need it before too long. And from a VAT point of view we're pleased.

"So long as this awful virus goes away we will get back up and running again."

Pubs, restaurants and hospitality will currently be able to serve customers outside from April 12. They are expected to be able to welcome customers indoors with the rule-of-six from May 17 and all restrictions are set to be lifted from June 21.