More than 80 cross-party MPs are urging the chancellor to provide decisive financial support to protect the hospitality sector and for the VAT cut, business rates holiday and furlough scheme to be extended.
Industry figures show hospitality sales plummeted 54% in 2020, equivalent to £72b, while 40% of accommodation and foodservice activities businesses have no or low confidence that their businesses would survive for the next three months.
Some 83 MPs from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Hospitality and Tourism have written to the chancellor ahead of this week's Budget, calling for the VAT cut on food and soft drinks to be extended for a further 12 months and for this to be extended to the broader hospitality industry, including alcoholic drinks sold on-premise, the leisure sector and weddings, as well as a business rates holiday for a further financial year.
The letter also calls on the government to replace the Job Retention Bonus and provide improved loan repayment terms and HMRC tax deferrals to give businesses more breathing room to recover.
Co-vice chair of the APPG Sally-Ann Hart said: "Our hospitality and tourism sectors are some of the best in the world. They are a fantastic social as well as economic asset and we should be immensely proud of them. They have been absolutely devastated by Covid, though. Despite unprecedented financial support from government, unfortunately many businesses have been lost and they have taken hundreds of thousands of jobs with them. These are businesses that are critical to communities around the country. They are focal points for social lives and drive inward investment. Ongoing government support through to the end of the pandemic and through the recovery phase is critical to rebuilding this industry and creating jobs."
Co-vice chair Alison Thewliss said: "Financial support at the Budget is now a must. The chancellor needs to act positively and extend the VAT cut and the rates holiday to our fantastic hospitality and tourism sector, which can help to regrow our battered economies. Support must also be extended to workers in the hospitality and tourism sectors for the entire period that restrictions are in place.''
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "The support of so many MPs from all parties and from the four nations of the UK emphasises just how important the hospitality and tourism sectors are – and how desperately they need the chancellor's help at Budget. Our sectors can be the engine of recovery, rapidly creating jobs and tackling youth unemployment. The chancellor can speed this recovery with extensions to the VAT cut and business rates holiday for the next year."
Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill added: "We welcome the cross-party support from MPs, which is recognition of the important role hospitality plays as an economic driver in so many parts of the country. A cut in VAT and an extension of the business rates holiday are essential to help the industry recover from the Covid pandemic."
Photo: Flickr - UKParliament