New restrictions on hospitality businesses in Wales will have devastating financial impacts and could still preface early year closures and job losses, despite a package of Welsh Government cash support, UKHospitality Cymru has warned.
“The new restrictions virtually close Wales’ events industry and take all other hospitality businesses much further into sub-viable trading,” said David Chapman, Executive Director for UKHospitality Cymru. “Hundreds of millions of pounds of business have been lost in the run up to a very quiet Christmas and things will now get worse from Boxing Day,” he said.
“Our members are battered and bruised and at the end of their tether. Morale, alongside customer confidence, is low. Our customers have dwindled to a trickle and this news will only make matters worse.”
He noted Welsh Ministerial calls for furlough to be reinstated and said that the sort of firepower that furlough represented was vitally needed to top up Welsh Government funding help. “The Welsh Government – like the UK Government – recognises the dismal trading conditions we have had to endure pre-Christmas and has made some more money available today to compensate for losses to date. Welsh Government tells us it has pushed its own financial boundaries as far as it can. The new packages amount to £120m, an additional £60m, but this falls way short of the huge scale of the business that will be lost.
“Cash reserves are long gone; loans are being repaid and costs are soaring. Today’s news here means we need the UK Government to help our businesses in Wales immediately and make more assistance available – and do it quickly. If not, there could be very serious permanent damage done to this industry in just a few weeks,” said Chapman.
Responding to the announcement of a return to table-service only for pubs across Wales from 26th December, CAMRA Chairman Nik Antona said: “Bringing back the table service only restriction is devastating news and is going to make it difficult, if not impossible, for many of our pubs, social clubs and brewery taprooms to turn a profit.
“Traditional smaller community locals which don’t serve food will be particularly hard hit at a time when the decent Christmas trade they were relying on to help them recover and see them through the quiet months at the start of the year has already evaporated as a result of government announcements.
“Details of the financial support that will be available is now urgently needed. This must include great Welsh breweries, cider producers and the wider supply chain for the beer and pubs sector and must reach businesses as quickly as is possible.
“Any system of grants may help businesses survive the next week or so – but the UK and Welsh Governments must urgently work together bring forward a comprehensive plan to protect our pubs, including a return to furlough, help with rent and extending support with business rates.”