100,000 Hospitality Businesses Write to Government Demanding Urgent Support

 Over 100,000 hospitality, leisure and retail businesses have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for urgent pledges of financial support for the sectors hit hardest by “Plan B” measures.

The demand follows Health Secretary Sajid Javid comments that there were “no guarantees” in a pandemic, indicating that stricter Covid measures could be introduced before Christmas: a usually profitable and essential time for hospitality and retail.

The letter, sent by Croydon Business Improvement District (BID) chief executive Matthew Sims on behalf of dozens of fellow BIDS and town centre management partners – outlines why existing government aid is insufficient in the face of current restrictions. It also identifies what action they believe Number 10 should be taking to stave off mass closures and redundancies within the sector.

Sim said: “It is baffling and alarming that our chancellor is doggedly sticking to measures which are out of date and out of touch with the stark and desperate reality retail, hospitality and leisure businesses are facing. Without swift intervention, many businesses will be faced with closures, lay-offs and cut backs, making the significant financial support government has ploughed into these sectors during the pandemic a woeful waste of money.”

Catherine McGuinness, Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee, echoed this sentiment and said: “We need to find ways to live with the virus which allow the economy to prosper, and in the meantime provide more support for the small businesses who are suffering under the restrictions.”

The letter is co-signed by industry figures including Night Time Industries Association chief executive Michael Kill, British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin and Great London Authority night czar Amy Lane. It states: “The critical Christmas trading period is in tatters, leaving businesses, particularly those within the hospitality, retail and leisure sector, teetering on the brink of financial ruin and set to lose £4bn in sales. While we appreciate risks to health due to the Omicron variant, we cannot and should not forget the businesses who have had all but been shut down and want to continue trading safely. Hospitality is the UK’s third largest sector, employing 3.2 million people, and produces £130bn of economic activity.

These sectors are vital to our economic recovery, and the current measures in place aren’t working.” The letter calls for 100% business relief for the first three months of 2022, followed by 50% through to the end of June. It also demands an extension of the reduced rate of VAT to the end of March, and for “survival” grants of up to £15,000 for sector business to be made available. Furthermore, it asks for grants of up to £7,500 per claim for those self-employed and freelance staff working in the hospitality industry who have “so far during the pandemic been largely overlooked”.