UKH calls for urgent financial support for operators affected by restrictions lift delay

UKHospitality is calling for urgent further support for suffering hospitality businesses following the announcement that Covid restrictions will remain for another four weeks.

The trade body has urged the Government to waste no time in providing details of how it will safeguard the future of thousands of venues and hundreds of thousands of jobs. It called for clear, comprehensive measures to ensure an end to the lockdown, with a particular need to counter the impact of the resumption of business rates payments in July.

UKHospitality Chief Executive, Kate Nicholls (pictured) said, “The decision to delay is hugely disappointing but the Government has judged the evidence and acted as it sees fit. It does, however, jeopardise the return on investment that the Government has afforded hospitality and it’s crucial that further support is announced to push us over the line.

“The hospitality sector has already lost more than £87bn in sales in the pandemic leaving businesses deeply in debt and at risk of suffering “economic long Covid” without further support.

'Our businesses face incredible levels of debt and will now face a huge cost hike, with business rates payments set to recommence and rent accruals due at the end of the month.

'Any swift indication that the business rates holiday will be extended would go a long way to bringing succour to a battered sector - paying any amount of tax while still unable to trade viably would save businesses and, in turn, tax receipts in longer term.'

Nicholls continued, “This four-week delay to lifting restrictions will cost the sector around £3 billion in sales, put at risk 300,000 jobs and have a knock-on impact on bookings throughout the summer and into the autumn. Simply put, if the supports provided by the Chancellor are not sustained and adjusted, businesses will fail and getting this far will count for nought.

“A final lifting of restrictions is the only way to save the sector from disaster and enable it to play its part in a national economic recovery, to support the Government’s Jobs Plan, delivering jobs, growth and investment at pace and across all the regions.'

Nicholls went on, 'A single ray of light is that the limit on weddings will be lifted but support must be granted and, crucially, delivered, to the vast majority of other hospitality businesses.

'Not least, it must reach those who are still unable to trade at all, including nightclubs and those who still cannot operate their main income streams, such as soft play centres, as well as businesses such as contract catering, who operate from other businesses venues and so have been unable to access many reliefs and grants.

Nicholls concluded, “Businesses need a swift, publicly-stated commitment that such support will be in place in the event of any delays, giving them much-needed reassurance after more than 15 months of closure and severely disrupted trading.

'Hospitality is desperate to get back to what it does best and can play a key role in the economic recovery of the UK - but only once it is given permission to trade freely. The Prime Minister asked for one more heave to get us out of restrictions – hospitality, too, requires one last heave, to be able to drive recovery.”