The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has reported that 74% of its members are currently loss-making or break even at best.

The annual survey of members details their experiences around reopening and the financial realities of trading whilst restrictions remain in place.

Staffing continues to be one of the main challenges, with 53% saying they cannot recruit enough staff to cope with the additional workload created by Covid restrictions, and 35% say they have lost staff as soon as they have returned from furlough.

Meanwhile 67% said that a lack of public understanding about the constantly changing rules and regulations for indoor vs outdoor visits has put more pressure on staff to effectively communicate and manage customer visits.

To enable their survival over the course of the pandemic and the months of closures for their pubs, nearly 60% have had to take a bounce back loan to survive and 24% still have unpaid rent debt that they are now also facing.

Almost 50% have pandemic specific debts of over £20k per pub and despite using their reserves, in many cases using their savings and borrowing from their own pensions, half of these have debts of between £40k and £80k per pub.

56% have said that they will need more than two years to repay the debts accumulated in the pandemic, and half of those will still be paying off those debts over a minimum of 5 to 10 years.

Without restrictions fully lifted, enabling them to trade freely and fully from 21st June, 11% of businesses will fail, 43% will be loss-making and will continue to take further debt, whilst 34% will only manage to break even with current regulations in place.

In terms of support, 82% say an extension of a full business rate reduction until April 2022 for England, in line with the other devolved nations, is necessary or business critical, whilst 89% say a full and fundamental reform of the rates system for pubs is needed to rebalance the burden with the digital economy and other sectors.

A majority (60%) say they need help from government with the rent debt from the pandemic, with 66% calling for further support from their landlords.

Steven Alton, CEO of the BII, commented: “Whilst it has been fantastic to see many of our nations’ pubs reopening after months of closures, our members and their teams are exhausted as they try to rebuild their businesses, keep staff and customers safe, and adhere to all of the extensive restrictions, specifically placed on their venues.

“Without real certainty of trading once again, free of restrictions, the vital role they are able to play at the heart of our nations’ recovery is in jeopardy. We are calling on Government to now deliver against its roadmap, allowing our pubs to begin their long road to recovery, before it’s too late.”