NTIA calls for return of furlough as hospitality faces 'pseudo lockdown'

14 December 2021 by
NTIA calls for return of furlough as hospitality faces 'pseudo lockdown'

A hospitality trade body is calling on the government to reinstate the furlough scheme for the first quarter of 2022 amid warnings the industry is facing a "pseudo-lockdown".

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which represents bars, nightclubs and live music venues, said the sector was facing "12 days of Christmas misery".

Some operators have been hit with hundreds of cancellations, losing thousands of pounds of revenue, as concern grows over the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

The NTIA said it was "morally wrong" of the government not to offer support after discouraging people from visiting hospitality, but not ordering businesses to close.

It said members had seen a 30% drop in footfall since last Thursday with further declines expected over the coming days as cancellations continue, with knock-on effects being felt across the supply chain.

The group is calling on the government to reinstate furlough for the first quarter of next year, freeze VAT at 12.5% and offer sector-specific grants to ensure the survival of thousands of businesses and jobs.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the NTIA, said: "The Chancellor may be wary of stumping up the cash but this will be better for the economy in the long run than putting businesses at risk of failing.

"Throughout the pandemic, our members and their staff have done their bit to support the national effort, often at enormous personal and professional cost. But the Government needs to hold up their end of the bargain. It is economically illiterate and morally wrong if they do not."

Earlier today the The Times quoted an unnamed Treasury source as claiming businesses would be supported with new state funding, and a possible return of furlough, if further lockdown restrictions were introduced to tackle the Omicron variant.

A Treasury spokesperson would not comment on the report but reiterated a statement that the government would "continue to respond proportionately to the changing path of the virus, as we have done since the start of the pandemic".

Image: Nick Starichenko / Shutterstock

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