UKHospitality and the BBPA have both called on the Government to deliver a package of support for hospitality following today’s announcements from the UK Prime Minister, warning that job losses and business failures will be an inevitability unless support is immediate and wide-ranging.
UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “These restrictions are a further, potentially fatal, blow for many hospitality businesses. In isolation, they may appear moderate, but the cumulative effect is going to be hugely damaging. Consumer confidence is going to take another hit and we cannot hope to recover while confidence remains low.
“The shift back towards working from home is going to hit city centre hospitality very hard. These businesses have already lagged behind as office workers and tourists have stayed away and they are going to take another battering.
“Most disheartening is the announcement that they are potentially in place for six months. Lots of businesses will not survive this and we are going to see more and more people lose their jobs unless we have the support to counterbalance these restrictions.
“The Government must immediately announce an exhaustive package of financial support, otherwise our sector is facing ruin. Employment support must be extended. The furlough scheme is already wining down and it comes to a complete halt at the end of October. Unless it is extended for our sector, businesses are inevitably going to have to make staff redundant. We are looking at a steady stream of job losses for six months, otherwise.
“We also must have longer-term support to enable businesses to rebuild in 2021. The VAT cut for the sector must be extended as must the business rates holiday. We also need a rent-debt settlement package, otherwise whole businesses are going to go under with widespread redundancies.”
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pubs Association said: “As an industry we recognise the need to continue to support the Government and local communities to manage the risk of rising infection rates.
“We take our responsibilities in helping to curb the spread of COVID-19 incredibly seriously and pubs have adapted well to the “new normal” over the past few months and will continue to do so, creating safe environments for socialising. A curfew is particularly heart-breaking for those pubs in areas where infection rates remain under control. There seems to be little available evidence that pubs, with their strict adherence to Government guidelines, are unsafe, so we are unsure that this blanket measure will make a major difference.
“Make no mistake, a 10pm curfew will devastate our sector during an already challenging environment for pubs. Pubs were struggling to break even before today and these latest restrictions will push some to breaking point. Removing a key trading hour on top of fragile consumer confidence and the reduced capacity pubs already face will put thousands more pubs and jobs at risk.
“During the current circumstances every hour of trading it crucial to the survival of pubs – for many this curfew will render their businesses unviable.
“The Government now needs to act fast in putting together a comprehensive support package to ensure that thousands of pubs don’t close their doors for good because of this curfew. We need an immediate sector specific furlough scheme to save the hundreds of thousands of jobs that pubs support, extended VAT cuts and business rates holiday and a substantial cut to the rate of beer duty in the Autumn Budget. Only a comprehensive support package like this will save thousands of pubs and many more pub jobs.”