UKH demands more Government help

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Virus impact: venues across the nation have seen footfall drop
Virus impact: venues across the nation have seen footfall drop

Related tags: Coronavirus

Trade body UKHospitality (UKH) has called on the Government to increase its support for the sector as the impact of coronavirus continues to spread.

It says the measures announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak in the Budget last week (11 March) were “stunningly generous” but more needed to be done.

He revealed there would be a freeze on alcohol duties and business rates on pubs with a rateable value of under £51,000 would be abolished.

The letter outlined the need for stronger measures from the Government to avoid job losses and business failures.

Cash flow catastrophe

This included immediately suspending business rates payments for all hospitality businesses for this year, extending statutory sick pay coverage to hospitality businesses of all size, short-term subsidies of staff wages where trade falls markedly, and industry suppliers including landlords to be discouraged from pursuing businesses for arrears.

UKH CEO Kate Nicholls said: “The hospitality sector is facing a unique short-term cash flow catastrophe as customers are advised to stay away.

“Government must support businesses of all sizes through this period so we can bounce back and continue to be at the heart of our communities.

“Business rates must be suspended immediately. Cash in the bank to continue to pay staff is the absolute priority for businesses.”

Extraordinary measures

She added: “We also need extraordinary measures from Government to support our colleagues. There is likely to be a significant short-term fall in demand.

“Government should step in and cover wage costs so our staff can continue to look after themselves and so businesses will still be there to provide them with employment when the country gets back on its feet.”

This followed data released by Wireless Social that looked at footfall across 800 venues, which showed a 37% drop for Saturday 14 March, when compared to the same day in 2019. Sunday 15 March saw a drop of 44% in footfall, compared to the same day last year.

The data was broken down into major cities across the country with Liverpool seeing the biggest drop of 52%.

London saw a fall of 47%, Newcastle 44%, Birmingham 41%, Manchester 37%, Bristol 35%, Cardiff 34% and Edinburgh 30%.

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