WSTA calls for support to extend to businesses in on-trade supply chain

The recently-announced support package for small businesses is welcome but “the government could have gone further”, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.

Miles Beale, the WSTA’s chief executive, said: “This new support announced yesterday by the government, whereby small businesses can apply for 100% government-backed loans amounting to 25% of turnover up to £50,000 is welcome, and may support the continued survival of businesses across the wine and spirit industry.

“However, as we have said before, much of the announced support amounts to loans which will need to be paid back. In this instance, a ceiling of £50,000 is low and the government could have gone further.

“The burden of additional debt is particularly unattractive to businesses in the supply chain who are yet to enjoy the government support afforded to other hospitality businesses in the form of grants, but for whom, just like pubs, bars and restaurants, sales have been reduced to zero practically overnight.

“We have been clear that what these businesses need is for the government to recognise their value in the same way they have other parts of the hospitality sector.

Beale noted that it could well be the case that these businesses will be the last permitted to re-open, and even when they begin trading again it is likely they will be forced to operate at reduced capacity or tightly restricted.

He said: “This impact will be felt just as much by businesses in the supply chain.

“The government must extend business rates exemption and availability of government grants to businesses in the on-trade supply chain, by broadening its definition of hospitality to include them. This would represent a much more supportive measure.

“The government must recognise that persisting with such a narrow definition of hospitality is harmful - there will be no hospitality sector without the businesses that keep pubs, bars and restaurants stocked.”

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