More than 200 hospitality chief executives have signed a letter to the prime minister calling for swift support for the sector.
Signatories to the letter, organised by UKHospitality, which include Thomas Dubaere of Accor hotels, James Spragg of Casual Dining Group and Ranjit Mathrani of MW Eat, have warned that without immediate help the sector will suffer unprecedented levels of closures and job losses.
Addressing prime minister Boris Johnson, the letter said: "Hospitality trade and footfall plummeted by up to 70% prior to your comments yesterday and will undoubtedly have worsened since, genuinely posing an existential threat to our businesses and the jobs. Hospitality represents 10% of UK employment and 5% of GDP and the shockwaves of a sector-wide failure would be socially, culturally and economically devastating."
The hospitality bosses have called for:
- An extension of the business rates and NIC payment breaks to all hospitality businesses for at least six months
- The UK to commit to additional working capital support while funding salaries and retaining staff
- Pressure on landlords and banks to avoid forfeiture of rent payments.
The letter added: "Hospitality is in a potentially fatal cashflow catastrophe, but all is not lost. With the right support from government, our valuable sector will be able to focus on its teams and may yet forge ahead for the benefit of the British economy and people. The biggest threat to its ability to do so is that support comes either too late or not at adequate levels to see us through: we implore you to act on the above, without delay."
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "This is by far the greatest crisis we have had to face as a sector. Venues are already closing and people are already losing their jobs. Unless we get immediate financial support from the government, the country's hospitality sector will cease to exist in any recognisable capacity."
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to make an address this afternoon in which it is hoped he will set out measures to help keep businesses afloat.
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