UKH welcomes furlough support for closed hospitality firms but more needed

UKHospitality has welcomed the increase in grants for closed hospitality businesses, up to £3,000, but repeated its call for a much more comprehensive package of support for the whole sector to cover rent and other overheads to ease the strain on businesses.

UKHospitality, the sector’s trade body, has warned that businesses facing restrictions such as curfew, compounded by diminished consumer confidence, must have a bespoke scheme, reiterating calls that the Chancellor’s Job Support Scheme must remove employer contributions to preserve hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. At present the scheme does not go nearly far enough to help such businesses.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said, “Paying two-thirds of wages for employees in lockdown is a welcome step and it is encouraging to see that the Chancellor has introduced flexibility and a sector-specific approach into the JSS and recognises that this is an evolving situation. Support for nightclubs and other businesses left in limbo, still unable to reopen, is very welcome. It will help save jobs in a sector that would be sorely missed it were allowed to die.

“However, worryingly, it does nothing to address the issues faced by sector businesses operating well below capacity due to restrictions and consumers avoiding travel and struggling to keep their workforce employed.

“The curfew has been crippling for many hospitality businesses, with sales down around 30% even in areas of low infection. A more comprehensive support package for our businesses affected must follow swiftly if they are to survive the winter and avoid contributing to mass unemployment. If the Government is serious about saving jobs, it needs to rethink the mandatory curfew in areas where COVID rates are low.

“The need now is no less – possibly is even more – than the first lockdown, so a more comprehensive package of financial support is crucial. In addition to employment support that must include grants for businesses to cover losses on stock and other overheads, which are piling up.

'We have already seen some high-profile failures and the situation is becoming increasingly unsustainable. The financial support on offer must go further if tragic levels of closures and redundancies are to be averted.”