'A drop in the ocean': Islington and Dalston pubs wanted more from chancellor

Women walk past the closed down children's clothing store Igloo on Upper Street in Islington

Hospitality in Upper Street, Islington, is suffering as a result of the Omicron variant. - Credit: PA

Pubs in Islington and Dalston have described the chancellor’s £1billion hospitality support as a “drop in the ocean," compared to what they need.

Rishi Sunak yesterday (December 21) announced the injection to aid hospitality businesses impacted by Omicron across the UK. 

But in Islington, business owners have said the new measures will not go far enough.

A spokesman for the Radicals & Victuallers, a pub on Upper Street, said: “This is the same of what we've seen before. 

"The best thing for the hospitality sector would be some stability rather than just plugging money into something and then sort of screwing us over."

The fund will offer grants of up to £6,000 per premises for hospitality businesses such as pubs and restaurants. The chancellor has described the measures as “generous” and said they were similar to the grants offered when businesses were made to shut completely during previous lockdowns.

But those on the ground say £6,000 is not enough. A spokesperson for The Victoria Dalston pub said: “We've lost more already over just Friday and Saturday. I mean, this is something, but it’s not cutting it”.

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The manager of The Islington Town House, near Angel station, said their losses had already far exceeded the amount pledged by the government. “[The scheme] could be some sort of help," the spokesperson said.

"But not much, because only last week we lost nearly £6,000 of revenue.

"Those £6000 are only going to cover one single week of sales and nothing else." 

Peter is the owner of The Duke of Wellington in Dalston, one of ten pubs owned by the parent company Frontier Pubs. He said that of the ten, “There isn't a pub amongst them that hasn’t been deeply affected."

"In fact," he added, "As of today, three out of 10 pubs have been forced to close”. The pubs are short-staffed due to staff members having contracted coronavirus.

The Radicals & Victuallers have had similar difficulties, losing about 70 per cent of staff to isolation.

They have had to reduce business hours and close entirely on some days: “I’d say that out of the whole pandemic, this is probably the worst patch we’ve ever had to go through”.

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