Around 120 industry leaders representing the best of the UK’s hospitality sector have written to the Prime Minister urging the Government to commit to an ambitious programme of business support and investment to stimulate the revival of the sector following the devastation caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
The letter calls on the Government to act decisively for a sector that was one of the first to be hit by the crisis, was hit harder than other sectors and is likely to be hit longer than other sectors. The crisis has hit the entire sector, from small independents to large multinationals, and across the full breadth of hospitality. This is reflected in the wide range of businesses that have signed the letter.
According to trade body UKHospitality, sales across the sector are expected to be 56% lower than last year, reducing revenues by a staggering £73.4bn, and half of businesses do not expect to reach breakeven until the end of next year. This highlights the urgent need for decisive support to prevent further business failures and maintain up to a million valuable jobs.
The letter sets out three recommended areas in which the Government can support businesses:
- Extending the deferral of all tax liabilities currently falling due in July (eg PAYE) to cover the closure and reopening period in full; removing the obligation to pay interest on late payment
- Establish a targeted Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Property Bounceback Grant to cover a proportion of rent debt during closure, reopening and recovery to break the impasse on rents.
- Boost confidence, demand and incentivise spend by temporarily reducing VAT to 5% for hospitality services – out-of-home food and beverage, accommodation and tourist attractions
- Protect jobs by allowing hospitality employers to access full furlough to the end of October and double the employer NIC threshold.
- Secure Hospitality’s Recovery by extending the hospitality business rates holiday to March 2022 ahead of fundamental reform of the business tax system.
UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “Our sector has been a high-profile casualty of this crisis and businesses are only now just beginning to reopen.
“For those businesses that have survived, the hard work begins now. We cannot assume that we are now in the clear just because our doors are open again. Many businesses have taken huge hits and hundreds of thousands of jobs are still in the balance.
“If we want to make a real success of this reopening, keep businesses alive and jobs secure, then the Government needs to provide support. Support from the Government has been extremely helpful in keeping venues afloat and it has saved jobs. There is no possibility of stopping now, though. Anything less than a full show of support from the Government risks undoing much of the good work that has already been done and will cause lasting damage to employment and the UK economy.
“We urge the Government to act decisively and positively to give hospitality the best possible chance of not only surviving the crisis but thriving in the aftermath.”