Margate landlord brands Prime Minister’s promise of £1k ‘wet pub’ grant ‘pathetic’

Britannia landlord Paul Rollins says the PM's offering is pathetic

A Margate pub landlord has slammed the pledge by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to give all ‘wet’ pubs a £1,000 grant as ‘pathetic.’

The PM announced the one-off payment yesterday (December 1) in the run up to the MPs vote on approving the covid tier restrictions across England.

The grant is for ‘wet-led pubs’ in tiers 2 and 3 who will miss out on much needed business during the busy Christmas period because of restrictions to business or continued closure. In Tier 2 pubs can only open if they are serving a substantial meal with alcohol. In Tier 3 all pubs and hospitality, including restaurants, remain closed other than for delivery and takeaway services.

Paul and Edna before the covid crisis

But Paul Rollins, who has run The Britannia in Fort Hill with wife Edna for more than five years, says the amount is nowhere near enough to save businesses from sinking into debt.

Paul, who is also President of the Licenced Victuallers Association Thanet Branch, said: “ It is a pathetic gesture for Boris to offer wet pubs a one off £1000 grant, it’s useless.

“Government needs to support pubs in Tier 3. There is no way most of us can trade even in Tier 2. Changing pubs to restaurants is not sustainable. It seems to be a control mechanism to curb excessive drinking, which has costs to health service.”

Paul and four staff are currently unable to work as the restrictions on pubs continue,. He says even when the pub can reopen the massively reduced trade due to covid-secure measures makes the future bleak.

He said: “My costs per month are over £2,700 so I won’t be able to carry on much longer and there are lots of others in same situation.

The Brit with social distancing measures

“It feels that there is little point in carrying on. We have been shut for four months and under restriction for the rest of the time and for the foreseeable future. We will be trading at less than 30% when we do open but our overheads are the same and business rates will be back soon. There is no hope of breaking even and we have to ask what we are holding on for, just to get in more debt?”

PM Boris Johnson

Yesterday Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Pubs are at the heart of communities across the country and they have been among the businesses which have suffered the most during the pandemic.

“While we can’t make up for all the trade they will lose over Christmas, I hope this new £1000 grant – on top of the furlough, VAT and business rates relief and existing grants – goes some way to help them weather the economic storm.”

He added: “Wet-led pubs in tiers 2 and 3 will be subject to significant measures under the new regional tiered system and it is right for the government to increase its support. Eligible wet-led pubs across these tiers are invited to apply through their local authority who will be responsible for distributing the grants. The payment will be made once per business for the month of December only.”

Paul remains unimpressed and says there has been no information about when the grant can be applied for and how.

He added: “This lot literally can’t organise a p*ss up in a brewery.”

The British Beer & Pub Association said a survey showed many pub bosses expected it to be unviable to open under the new tier two restrictions. Research by the trade association also shows that pubs in England will receive three times less financial support than pubs in Wales.

The average grant payment a pub will receive in England over the next six weeks will be £3,400, whereas an initial analysis of the package announced by the Welsh Government on Monday suggests this would be £11,300 for pubs in Wales in compensation for the tighter restrictions coming into force there.

The BBPA says this shows how ‘meagre’ the Prime Minister’s one-off £1,000 payment to pubs is. It says unless the tier restrictions change, the Prime Minister needs to provide both pubs and the breweries that supply them in England with far greater support.

Photo BBPA

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Having invested £500 million in safety measures to ensure they are Covid-secure, it is ridiculous so many of our pubs are being forced to remain closed unfairly.

“It is clear the meagre £1,000 one off payment for pubs this Christmas isn’t going to be anywhere near enough to save those who simply cannot open or are completely unviable because of Government restrictions.

“Pubs in Wales rightly look set to receive at least three times more in grant support than pubs in England. This is a closer reflection of the real level of costs that pubs will incur under these tight restrictions this Christmas. The Prime Minister’s £1,000 one-off payment is an insult to pubs on their knees in England. He can and must do better.”

A spokesman for the Thanet CAMRA branch (Campaign for Real Ale) added: “A one off payment of £1k to wet led pubs in tiers 2 & 3 is simply not enough.

“The fixed costs of pubs already endured through both lockdowns have left them in a precarious position and the loss of business through the golden quarter may be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.

“The evidence that pubs are spreading the disease more than retail premises which can reopen from today has not been made available. We fear for the future of our pubs and breweries.”

Tier 3 explained – what is open and what remains closed; who you can meet, Christmas bubbles and where you can travel


  1. An observation rather than a criticism, but didn’t The Britannia close for a short while prior to the Covid crisis? Whatever, we’ve lost far too many pubs in recent years, and I agree that they deserve far more help (once they’re gone they’re usually gone forever, as the people of Acol and Cliffsend can testify!).

    I haven’t been there for years, but I have great memories of seeing many live bands at The Britannia, and I’ve even graced the stage there myself during the weekly jam nights. Along with The Ship, it was an important venue prior to Margate being ruined by pretentious arty types.

  2. Some estimates that two thirds of the hospitality industry will go to the wall in the UK following these illogical and destructive lockdown and tier measures. Will that leave a soul-less world of fast-food corporates like McDonalds with their unhealthy offerings? Good for the MPs fighting against all of this. Shame on those abstaining or voting for further restrictions based on a dodgy cut and pastes dossier with no persuasive proof.

  3. Prior to coronavirus this the pub selling sunday lunch meals for £1 and complaining their pub business is not viable due to Tdc business rates and travellers.
    were seeing established businesses fail, sometimes on a daily basis. Sadly many pubs will close and never reopen again, hopefully its not local Gov secret policy to reduce drinking establishments.

  4. I would sooner see a church fall down than a pub closing! It has to be remembered that the government does not have any money, except that which we give it by way of taxes! My guess is we will all suffer by further cuts in public services to repay the Billions spent on Lockdown etc!

  5. Check out today’s national press showing hoards of mainly young, probably out if work drinking as soon as the restrictions were lifted in their areas.
    Unfortunately, most pubs are now nothing more than pre- night club pissholes frequented by mainly under 25s who think it’s their god given right to get smashed as often as their parents money lasts. I’ts a shame, but I’m afraid these publicans have brought this on themselves by encouraging this behaviour for years and have made lots of money by doing so.
    So, stop feeling sorry for an industry that has probably cost the local public services like the police, hospitals who on a regular basis have to respond to the drunken spoilt brats who after a couple of sherbets either Chuck up or start fighting each other probably costing the tax payer far more than they put in the system.
    Just a thought! Can’t wait for the snowflakes and piss heads to disagree with some gusto. Bring it on!

    • Neither a snowflake or a p*sshead (I don’t swear), but the pubs I frequent tend to be expensive food-type places where people are far more refined, polite and well-dressed than the rough ale houses you’re obviously so familiar with.

      It is rare indeed that I have more than 1 pint of beer or a large glass of wine during my (at most) weekly visits. I’d much rather spend my money on decent food and good service.

  6. Sorry Peter, I was referring to most pubs on planet earth. Not sure what pub you’ve visited on Friday or Saturday night. But I hope you enjoy your fine food on planet Zog.

    • I tend to go to pubs mostly at lunchtimes these days, so can’t really answer that. However, I can’t imagine there being too many drunk teenagers on Friday/Saturday nights at the pubs in St. Nicholas, Preston, Wickhambreux, Fordwich, Worth, or any of the other more salubrious villages I visit.

      • Yep, like I said Peter, planet Zog. Incidentally, I never go to pubs just live in the real world. Check out the national press and see what the Welsh covidiots have done the moment restrictions are eased. Then tell me I’m wrong. Most Pubs are nothing more than nurseries for teenagers getting smashed on mummy and daddy’s money. Landlords have loved it, made a fortune. Payback time. Shut the lot.

        • “Never going to pubs while living in the real world” is an oxymoron. Seriously, whether you approve of them or not, you’re going to find much more of the “real world” in a pub than you are just reading about them in newspapers (I personally combine both by reading newspapers in pubs!).

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