UKHospitality has warned that businesses will not be able to survive and contribute the rebuilding of the economy unless further support is given.

The comments were made following the figures published by the CGA today, which show a net decline of close of 6,000 licensed premises in the UK last year.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UKHospitality, said the loss of so many premises was “a dreadful blow to the country’s hospitality sector, but that it was the tip of the iceberg if we continue on our current course”.

“This is a stark reminder of the importance of having an exit strategy and ongoing support for businesses. Sustaining businesses, keeping them alive and keeping jobs protected is vitally important and is going to be key to recovery once we emerge from this,” she said. “If we have the right support in place now, it will make the job of recovery much more achievable once we are in a position to reopen again.”

“The forthcoming Budget must be a one which delivers a bold, wide-ranging package of financial support to ensure as many businesses as possible are saved. The VAT cut and business rates holiday extensions must be top of the menu.”

Commenting on the CGA’s latest figures, Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said it feared that things could actually get much worse for pubs and brewers before they get better.

“These figures show what a devastating year 2020 was for pubs. Our sector is far from out the woods yet though and it continues to fight for its very survival through the pandemic in 2021,” she said.

McClarkin added that the findings showed it is more important than ever that the sector had government backing. “This means grants delivered to them immediately before it’s too late. It also means reopening properly along with a stimulus package that helps pubs to thrive including extensions to the Business Rates holiday and VAT cut, as well as a beer duty cut.”