Hospitality businesses demand PM do more to help sector or face 'devastating' job losses

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

More than 100 hospitality businesses demand Boris Johnson do more to help sector or face 'devastating' job losses

Related tags: Curfew, Coronavirus, Restaurant, Pub, Government

More than 100 UK hospitality businesses from across the sector have written directly to Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning that he must personally do more to help them.

The letter, led by trade associations the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), UKHospitality and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), says that without additional and urgent support many businesses will not 'survive this bleakest of winters' and hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost. 

It describes how the latest restrictions to be imposed on the sector, which include a 10pm curfew on operating hours and a legal obligation for licensed venues to operate table service only, have 'made the fight to survive even harder', adding that prior to them being introduced half of all hospitality businesses already did not believe they would survive beyond the middle of next year.

Johnson said last week that the new measures could be in place for six months, although pressure is growing for the Government to review the restrictions​ amid criticism the new rules are leading to people filling the streets en masse after closing time.

The letter calls on the Government to commit to review the appropriateness of the latest restrictions at least every three weeks, and to remove them if they are found to not be impacting the spread of the virus. 

Elsewhere, the letter also says that if hospitality businesses are to survive and 'lead the economic and employment recovery', they need more Government support.  

It states that the Chancellor’s winter support package 'does not go nearly far enough' for the imperilled sector, adding that 'without an immediate review of the support on offer to pubs, restaurants and wider hospitality businesses, many will be lost for years to come'.

Addressing the Prime Minister directly, the letter calls on the Johnson to immediately remove employer contributions for the hospitality sector to the Job Support Scheme (JSS) and provide a package of grant funding for those businesses that face restrictions being brought forward.

To plan and rebuild beyond the winter, it also says 'the VAT cut and business rates holiday must also be extended through 2021 and beer duty cut'.

Set to launch on 1 November following the cessation of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS), the six-month Job JSS will see the Government continue to pay a portion of employee's wages​.

Under the new scheme employees must be able to work a minimum of 33% of their contracted monthly hours.

For remaining hours not worked, the Government and employer will pay a third of wages each, meaning employees only able to work 33% of hours would still receive at least 77% of their pay. 

The measures have already been dismissed by many in the hospitality sector​ for 'not going far enough'.

In closing, the letter asks the Prime Minister to intervene 'as a matter of urgency' and offers a meeting of sector leaders to help draw up a sector-specific support package to reflect sector-specific restrictions and  preventing 'the devastating damage that is drawing ever closer'.

The letter has support fr more than 100 co-signatories representing business across the sector including D&D London, Azzurri Group, Burger King, Caffè Nero, PizzaExpress, JD Wetherspoon and Tortilla.

Related topics: Business

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