Supports for pub sector must be key focus for new government, says VFI

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) has welcomed the publication of the Programme for Government as an important step in the process of providing key supports for the pub trade during an extremely challenging period for the sector.

The representative body for publicans says its members are encouraged that the new government is to establish an SME task force to co-ordinate the response to Covid-19. As the VFI has stated since the crisis began back in March, pubs will require a sustained support package as they begin to trade in the new normal required by social distancing.

“The formation of a new government is vital if we are to see a coherent response to the economic challenges the pub sector faces due to Covid-19,” says Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive.

“The Programme for Government says that a ‘concerted focus’ on SMEs is required along with balanced regional growth. The so-called ‘July Stimulus’ will be a crucial weapon in the new Government’s armoury and must be used to support the hospitality sector as we emerge into a new trading reality for our members.

“The formation of an SME and State Bodies Group chaired jointly by the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Business to coordinate the Government’s ongoing response to COVID-19 for SMEs is to be welcomed.”

The VFI also welcomes the commitment contained within the Programme for Government to introducing Minimum Unit Pricing in consultation with Northern Ireland.

The announcement of a Night-time Economy Taskforce to review, in part, trading hours and licensing laws will be an opportunity for the VFI to put forward its members’ views on how best to promote and encourage the late-night economy.

“We look forward to working with the new Government to promote our pub culture, one of the country’s greatest assets. During this period of vulnerability for the pub trade, where social distancing requirements will hugely impact on our members’ ability to trade, it’s important we do everything possible to support pubs until all restrictions are removed,” concludes Mr Cribben.