Support for hospitality must be "extended, enhanced and delivered swiftly" if jobs are to be preserved, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has told a government committee today.
Speaking to the House of Commons Treasury Committee, Nicholls highlighted where hospitality businesses had been excluded from schemes and where operators were struggling to access aid. She also stressed that support must continue past the end of the lockdown.
Points raised included:
- An estimated 350,000 hospitality workers are still ineligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme as they are seasonal workers, new starters or unable to produce a payslip;
- A survey of UKHospitality members showed that 50% had applied for a loan, but only 18% of those that had were successful in securing one, with some banks indicating they will not lend to the sector;
- 71% of hospitality sites have a rateable value above £51,000 and are therefore ineligible for government grants;
- 71% of UKHospitality members have had insurance claims rejected;
- The rent moratorium must be extended and businesses will require time after reopening before they can begin to pay once again.
Nicholls said: "Government support for businesses has been swift and it has helped many businesses get over the initial shock of the crisis. It is clear, however, that too many businesses are struggling to access support and that the schemes in place must be extended and enhanced.
"Hospitality was the first sector to be hit hard by the crisis and it will be one of the last to make a recovery. Even when lockdown measures are lifted, our sector faces a huge challenge in getting customers back through their doors and finding solutions to social distancing measures that are likely to be in place.
"Business support needs to be boosted immediately to make sure that every business that needs it can access it. Scrapping thresholds for grants and support with rents will keep businesses alive and keep jobs open.
"This support then needs to be carried over after the worst of the crisis has passed. If it is abruptly switched off, then all the good work that has been done during these difficult weeks will be undone. Hospitality is going to be battling with the effects of this for months, if not years, and support from the government cannot be stopped until businesses are back up to full strength."