Many thanks to those who have contacted me about support for pubs during the pandemic.
I share your concern about the future of pubs and the hardship caused by the coronavirus outbreak. It is clear the economic effects of fighting the virus last longer for businesses than the duration of any given restrictions, and we need to go further with our support.
With the Prime Minister's announcement on the roadmap to reopening our country, I know just how eager pubs are to reopen and many will be disappointed that the easing of restrictions on hospitality will take place no sooner than April.
It is nonetheless encouraging that pubs will be able to reopen outdoor table service from 12 April, with no requirements for a meal to be served with alcohol or a curfew in place. Under Step 3, which is expected to begin on 17 May, indoor hospitality can once again take place as well. In June, all restrictions on social distancing are scheduled to be removed. This cautious approach provides businesses with a sense of certainty for lifting restrictions over the spring months. I am also pleased that the Government has announced that pavement licences will be extended for a further 12 months, making it easier and cheaper for pubs, restaurants and cafes to continue to make outdoor dining a reality with seating, tables and street stalls to serve food and drinks.
Recognising the difficult months ahead, it is good to see that the Budget has laid out further financial support and relief for pubs. The business rates holiday is being extended for a further three months to the end of June 2021. This will be followed by 66 per cent business rates relief for the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022. Restart Grants are also being made available worth up to £18,000 for hospitality, leisure, accommodation, personal care and gym businesses. The reduced VAT rate is being continued at 5 per cent until 30 September for hospitality, after which it will be at 12.5 per cent until 31 March 2022. Alcohol duty is being frozen for 2021-22 as well. These measures come on top of the previous grants, reliefs and loans made available since the start of the pandemic. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until September to give people and businesses across the whole United Kingdom the certainty they need.
I appreciate that there have been calls for a specific additional support package for pubs, such as a cut in beer duty served in pubs, applying the VAT reduction to alcoholic drinks and further extending the business rates holiday for a second full financial year. I will continue to press Ministers to step in with all necessary support for our pubs.