The trade body is calling for immediate employment support for businesses within 24 hours to preserve more than 1m jobs that will otherwise be cut as employers face the prospect of making immediate mass redundancies in order to survive amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said: “Our analysis suggests in excess of 1m jobs are now on the line. Job cuts are extraordinarily deep and they are happening now – today and tomorrow, and are snowballing.
“Companies are having to make the very difficult decisions now, and with many hospitality and leisure businesses now having to choose to close or massively reduce their operations, there is little chance of saving many jobs without far-reaching help.
“What the sector urgently needs is a package of support and funding to keep people in employment This needs to happen now... within 24 hours.”
She outlined how the extra measures announced by Chancellor earlier this week (17 March) represents significant help that will give many companies a lifeline but the massive issue continues to be people and the preservation of jobs.
Preserve employment status
Nicholls added: “What was announced by the Chancellor will not stop job losses as companies will be very worried about taking loans to pay staff when they have zero income – for many, it just isn’t viable.
“This is about helping individual people to preserve their employment status and to avoid swamping the already-strained welfare system.
“It will also allow companies to keep their teams and be ready to aid the economic recovery when stability returns.”
UKHospitality estimated across the sector, in a fortnight since the impact of Covid-19 was really felt in the UK, the industry has lost between 200,000 and 250,000 jobs, with the majority of these in the past few days.
Nicholls added: “The speed of change and the severity of the action companies are now having to take is shocking and many, many more will be lost in the coming days, without help.”
British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) also called on the Government for further urgent interventions to keep pubs from closing.
Period of uncertainty
It is asking the Government to underwrite at least three quarters (75%) of wages for all pub and brewing staff, enabling employers to pay staff during this period of uncertainty and estimated this would cost the Government £1bn.
The BBPA is also calling for excise duty and VAT payments due on 25 March and 31 March respectively to be cancelled to enable pub-operating companies to redirect cash directly into their business.
It also urged the immediate distribution of the £10,000 and £25,000 Government grants announced by the Chancellor on 17 March, or underwrite them to boost cash flow.
And it said it requires the Government to underwrite all insurance costs for business interruption for at least three months and for the money to be given to insurers now or directly the businesses, to prevent thousands of permanent pub closures.
BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Pubs are in a crisis. We need urgent intervention from the Government to prevent a catastrophic number of job losses and the sector damaged beyond repair.
“We recognise, as a sector, we are in unprecedented times. We are prepared to play our part but while we welcome the measures outlined by the Government so far, they do not deal with the immediate cash flow and liquidity crisis our industry faces now.
“We stand ready to work with the Government on saving jobs and finding a solution. However, we cannot stress enough the Government has just 24 hours to create a pub-specific package to prevent irreversible closures and job losses. We have outlined to the Government, the rescue package that is needed and stand ready to work with them to make it happen.”