Last week’s announcement from the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on the extension of the Job Support Scheme for those businesses forced to close, was welcomed as a start for the additional support that must now be delivered to save our industry.
However, much more needs to be done to avoid mass redundancies and business failures for pubs and the wider hospitality sector.
Steven Alton, CEO of the BII commented:
“Our industry has been one of the worst affected during the pandemic, not only from enforced closures, but also with consumer confidence being undermined at every step by ever changing restrictions and the blaming of hospitality for the spread of Covid-19.
“Whilst the extension of the Job Support Scheme to pay 66% of wages will temporarily help save some jobs in Very High risk areas where businesses are forced to close, many of our members run pubs which were already trading at a loss, prior to the introduction of the 10pm curfew and further restrictions.
“In addition to this, for those who are not forced to close as they are not in High Risk areas, restricted trading hours, empty high streets and consumer confidence at an all-time low means their once viable businesses are now on a cliff-edge as the furlough scheme ends for them in 19 days. The Job Support Scheme will be of little use to employers, as they will need to contribute funds they do not have towards the cost of staff wages for hours not being worked.
“Hospitality was one of the only sectors in growth prior to lockdown, providing employment, tax revenue and vital social value, and it can only provide ongoing employment in the future, if we are supported with comprehensive, sector-specific support. Without that support, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost, many in the next few weeks. We proved as a sector during trading in July and August with over 60 million customers every week that we were able to operate safely whilst kick starting the economy, with no discernible rise in national infections.
“Our sector is uniquely affected by all 3 levels of measures and many successful operators will be forced to make their workforces redundant and shut their doors for good. The long term cost of those redundancies will far outweigh the short term support that is needed for hospitality this winter. With so many young people in particular employed by our sector, the Government must recognise this and provide this critical support.
“No matter where pubs are within the new 3 tier system, they are restricted in how they can trade. Already the impact of the Rule of 6 and the 10pm curfew has seen a drop in trade of 30% or more in businesses that were only just breaking even before these further regulations were implemented.
“In order to have any chance of survival, as a minimum where ANY restrictions are placed on our sector, additional business support is critical.
Pubs in all tiers will urgently need: Full Job Support Scheme access with no employer contribution and Government disruption grants linked to their rateable value to safeguard the future of these viable businesses.”