Trade bodies join forces to call for full furlough extension

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Plea to Government: trade bodies ask the Chancellor to reduce social distancing to one metre and extend the full furlough scheme
Plea to Government: trade bodies ask the Chancellor to reduce social distancing to one metre and extend the full furlough scheme

Related tags: coronavirus, ukhospitality, British beer & pub association, British institute of innkeeping

Industry associations have urged the Chancellor to maintain the furlough scheme at the current 80% payment level until October and increase its flexibility for the trade.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) and UKHospitality (UKH) have written a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak with this request.

It also calls on the Government to adopt the advice and guidance of the World Health Organisation (WHO) from July, which suggests using one metre for social distancing rather than two​.

The trade bodies said this would help businesses get back up and running to serve their communities again, significantly raising the number of pubs that could safely reopen from a third to three quarters in July and at levels that would be more commercially viable.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “We very much welcome the Government’s extension to the furlough scheme, which has been a lifeline to pubs and pub jobs.

“However, unless social distancing restrictions are reduced to the WHO’s suggested one-metre distancing, two thirds of pub jobs could be lost.

“It is vital the Government allows pubs to reopen under those safe conditions in July so they can operate at a sustainable level and become pillars of the community once more.”

Saving jobs

She added: “Under two-metre social distancing rules, pubs will have less space to operate with so will need fewer staff. Many pubs won’t even be able to reopen, yet they could be expected to cover part of their staff furlough costs from August without any money coming in.

“Such a situation would mean either pubs closing for good or jobs being lost. Pubs have been closed since March with no income coming in.

“Expecting many to contribute to furlough costs while they are still closed is madness. The decision for the Chancellor is simple – extend the furlough scheme at 80% for our sector until October to save hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

BII boss Steven Alton hailed pubs as the “lifeblood of so many of our villages” and praised the work operators have been doing to support local communities.

He added: “We ask the Government to recognise the importance of pubs, not only for the significant economic contribution and millions of jobs, but also to the fabric of our society by continuing the full furlough support for pubs staff.”

Extending the full furlough scheme is part of UKH’s #FairForHospitality ​campaign and is needed to support livelihoods, according to the trade body’s chief executive Kate Nicholls.

First baby steps

She said: “Some businesses will reopen in July but many will be trading at far below full capacity. They will be operating with reduced income and will likely incur additional costs to ensure social distancing measures are in place.

“Businesses will have to continue to furlough some staff members and they will need Government support to do so.

“The reality is, after five months of virtually no earnings, facing start-up costs and additional ongoing costs, businesses will simply not be able to contribute to the furlough scheme from August.

“The sector will only be taking its first baby steps and to expect businesses to go from a standstill to full speed immediately will only lead to venues shutting their doors for good and see staff lose their jobs.”

This follows a senior Government source telling The Morning Advertiser ​there are plans to continue financial support for the trade​ in the long term by possibly working directly with hospitality businesses, until they can return to normal trading levels.

If the sector opens with fewer tables and a lower footfall, financial aid is likely to work in line with workplace guidance and taper off gradually in a bid to ensure the balance between economic factors and public safety is maintained.

Read the latest digital edition of The Morning Advertiser​ – for free – by clicking here​.

Related topics: Legislation, UnitedWeStand

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