Furlough Extension Welcome, But Broader Support Still Needed

An extension of the business rates holiday and the VAT cut is the “bare minimum” still required to ensure businesses survive the next six months despite the continuation of furlough, sector trade bodies have warned.

Kate Nicholls, CEO, UKHospitality said:

“Extending the furlough scheme is a big boost and will help secure hospitality jobs in the medium term across the whole of the UK. Keeping jobs alive during this lockdown and throughout a bleak-looking winter period, which is likely to see businesses trading under severe restrictions, is key to the future survival of the sector.

“Hospitality is facing a tough winter ahead, though, and businesses will need additional support if they are to survive. We will need enhanced grant support to keep venues alive and a solution to the ongoing rent debt problem that continues to linger over the sector. These must come alongside a clear roadmap for a return to business. Without these, the extended furlough scheme alone is not enough to keep hospitality alive and will have been a wasted investment of public funds.

“Surviving the winter is just the first step, too. Beyond that we need action to ensure that businesses can be revived and the sector can play its part in rebuilding the economy. Extending the VAT cut and business rates holiday, coupled with extensive Government promotion of tourism and hospitality, will be the bare minimum required.”

Neil Pattison, Director at Caterer.com, the UK hospitality industry job board: “The Chancellor’s decision to extend the furlough scheme until the end of March 2021 is hugely positive news for the hospitality sector and will help keep many jobs. However, beyond this, the industry needs immediate, clear action to keep businesses going. The longer uncertainty continues, and the trade is inhibited from operating, the more likely it is that hospitality workers will turn to other sectors for employment. More than two million applications have already been submitted to Caterer.com’s Hospitality Redeployment Hub – which helps hospitality workers find new roles. As businesses continue to make difficult decisions about the future of their workforce, they’ll also be forced to reduce the number of new workers they bring into the sector. The Government must help prevent the industry from missing out on a generation of hospitality workers, and ensure that the sector can resume trading as soon as possible by removing the rule of six and 10pm curfew once lockdown has been lifted.”