Government at Westminster, Holyrood and Cardiff must invest in a fair and timely return for hospitality this summer, for the benefit of local communities, peoples’ jobs, national wellbeing and the British economy. That’s the central message of a new campaign launched today (20 May) by trade body UKHospitality to highlight that businesses are ready to reopen in a safe and sustainable way given the right government support.
UKHospitality represents tens of thousands of outlets in a diverse and dynamic sector that in normal times employs in excess of three million people and generates £39bn of tax for the Exchequer.
With the Prime Minister setting out a roadmap for the sector to restart and proposals soon to emerge in Scotland, the #FAIR4Hospitality campaign outlines four primary areas in which Government can deliver for Britain and allow hospitality to play a leading role in the recovery:
- Wellbeing: Endorse the sector’s best-practice protocols and risk assessments for a COVID Secure restart
- Workers: Ensure the furlough scheme is retained at full rate for hospitality until businesses successfully restart
- Communities: Regulate to provide a ‘National Time Out’ on rent payments for the remainder of the year and a solution to address debt and costs for business
- Consumers: Cut the rate of VAT for hospitality businesses to help boost confidence and incentivise visits to tourist destinations.
As a first step, UKHospitality has submitted its best practice health and safety protocols to ministers for endorsement, which emphasise that the sector needs flexibility to operate safely and should not be constricted by a one-size-fits-all approach given the diversity of businesses covered.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact, with a 21% decline in hospitality trade in the first three months of 2020 as the industry moved into lockdown – 10 times worse than the whole economy. In the second quarter there has been a near wipe-out of trade; around a third of businesses believe they will never reopen some sites. Even while closed, the sector faces further costs – with no revenue and bills of up to £1 billion in rent and other overheads in the second quarter of the year.
Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality Chief Executive, said: “Hospitality needs the UK and devolved governments to help us deliver for our customers, our employees, local communities and the wellbeing of the nation. We will be ready to restart (in England on 4th July and other parts of the country when allowed), but for the entire country to come together again after lockdown, governments must invest in a fair and timely return for hospitality and all those who rely on it.
“The sector provides jobs and livelihoods in every city, town and village. But we are more than that, our venues are where communities come together – our doors reopening will be a true measure of national recovery. It is vital that reopening is done in the right way, at the right time and with the right support so that our industry can help rebuild shattered consumer confidence and bring the nation back together safely over the coming months.
“The summer is a crucial time for the sector. The Great British public deserve safe accommodation, eating and drinking out experiences, holidays and leisure time; the financial cost is a justified investment in our nation’s wellbeing and the future of the economy.”