Pub denied Covid-19 bailout because rateable value is £1 over limit


Landlord of historic country pub fears for its future after missing out on an emergency coronavirus loan from the Government because it’s valued at just £1 over the £50,999 threshold

  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
  • Publican Matt Cawood’s bar cannot claim a special Covid-19 bailout payment
  • Leisure businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or above are excluded
  • Mr Caword’s historic bar in Northumberland was valued for rates of £51,000
  • According to Government guidelines, Mr Cawood can appeal the decision  

A historic country pub is fearing for its future after missing out on a monetary lifeline from the Government because its value is rated £1 over the required threshold.

The Boatside Inn, in Warden, Northumberland, has a rateable value of £51,000 and therefore falls above the under £50,999 limit.

Owner Matt Cawood says that if his business had been valued at £50,999 he would have been eligible for the Government’s coronavirus relief hospitality grant of £25,000.

Publican Matt Cawood’s business is facing collapse as Northumbria County Council assessed the rateable value of his building as £51,000 – £1 more than the limit to receive a special Covid-19 bailout

Mr Cawood, who employs 18 people said has asked the council to use their discretion and allow his business to receive a life-saving cash injection

 The Boatside Inn, in Warden, Northumberland, pictured, was opened  in 1782

He has lobbied the Treasury and Northumberland County Council for discretion but they say they can’t budge.

He is one of 9,184 of the 41,011 pubs in the UK to fall outside of this bracket – meaning one in five pubs is in danger of collapse.

Mr Cawood said: ‘I will have to look at folding the business or taking more money out of my personal debt.

‘There’s no discretion shown at all. There are loads of pubs in the UK in the same position and we’re all pressuring the Government to change the rules.

‘I don’t understand why there is a cut off for the hospitality industry regardless of rateable value.

‘It is such a transactional business, relying on income each week and, for us, relying on the seasonal summer work to take us through the winter.

‘But for it to be set at £51,000 and to miss out for a £1 is a real kick in the teeth.’

Mr Cawood currently employs 18 people full-time, but is struggling to pay them and suppliers without an income.

The popular country pub and 150-seater restaurant on the bank of the South Tyne river dates back to 1782, and has a rich history as an alehouse.

It was formerly named the Boat Inn and located at the spot where the ferry crossed the river until a toll bridge was built.

Nestled in the quaint village of Warden, it is popular with walkers and tourists who flock to the area to visit nearby World Heritage Site, Hadrian’s Wall.

It boasts three bed-and-breakfast rooms and two self-catering cottages.

The father-of-three said: ‘I have to hope that this enforced closure does not drag on too long. The longer we’re closed the harder it is to make money..’

Mr Cawood, 49, said the pub was evaluated by the council’s valuation office, and moved to a higher value before he took over the business in July 2018.

‘Other pubs in the local area are very much below the threshold. It makes no sense whatsoever why my rates have gone up,’ he said.

‘Every day is a constant worry, it’s frustrating to find myself in a situation like this when I have worked so hard.

‘I also have elderly relatives who need to be looked after but I’m bogged down in business and worry of not knowing whether I’m going to see this through. It’s unfair.

‘If I had to declare myself bankrupt I would also lose my home, as I live here too.

‘This pub has been here since the 1700s, it’d be a tragedy for it to fall by the wayside now. Government assistance is an absolute must.’

Nearby Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman and his team have been working to support the pub.

‘It is incredibly frustrating that we are yet to find a solution to further assist this great local business – but I will not give up,’ said Mr Opperman.

British Institue of Innkeeping (BII) CEO Steven Alton said: ‘We fully support the call for additional help for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000.

‘For a lot of these businesses, their wage bills are crippling their cash flows, while waiting for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme furlough payments to come through.

‘Through our close working group with UK Hospitality, The British Beer & Pub Association, The Campaign for Real Ale, The Society for Independent Brewers and Pub in The Hub, we are clear that this message is being taken into Government and will continue to push for all the support that is required to help keep our vibrant industry alive.’


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