UKH fires jobs warning as one in three still furloughed

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Jobs warning: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has warned the Government the sector is in a "delicate stage" and requires further support
Jobs warning: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has warned the Government the sector is in a "delicate stage" and requires further support

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At least 900,000 people working in hospitality face losing their job without a tailored support package, one of the sector's trade associations has warned.

UKHospitality (UKH) chief executive Kate Nicholls told the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee that the Government must provide sector-specific measures to prevent mass redundancies.

The total number of people without work rose by 62,000 in the three months to July, the Office for National Statistics said. 

Although the Government’s Job Retention scheme has been praised by UKH, nearly 100,000 jobs were lost in hospitality in this period.

UKH’s calls for more support come as Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme is set to end at the end of October.

The trade association said it wanted the Government to partially fund hours for staff working at reopened businesses, up to 50% of wages.

It also called for enhanced support for pubs and bars closed or partially closed in local restrictions. 

Bolton pubs, for example, were ordered to shut​ and only operate as takeaways last week with operators calling for further Government support​.

Training packages for workers in areas hardest hit by the economic fallout of the pandemic, such as city centres are also sorely needed, Nicholls said.

Delicate stage

Nicholls said the coronavirus crisis had “massively damaged” the sector’s traditional role in providing young people “their first taste of the world of work”.

“Parts of the sector remain closed; a whole range of activities are not permitted; and the rest remains substantially below capacity," she explained. "As a sector we have utilised flexible furlough to get as many people as possible back into the world of work, but we are at a very delicate stage."

More than one third of the hospitality industry are still on full furlough while an additional 16% remain on flexible furlough.

“We are concerned that this leaves at least 900,000 people in our sector at risk of redundancy without further support,” Nicholls continued.

“The hospitality sector has a proven track record in delivering jobs growth. But we need Government to be flexible in its approach and to provide the necessary support over the bleak winter months in order for our sector to continue to play a role in the economic recovery.”

Suspended animation

Despite the efforts of business groups, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs he would not extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) as he did not want the public to stay in a "suspended animation".

It comes as the Night Time Industries Association (NITA) said the ONS figures imply more than 700,000 jobs in the late-night sector could be lost without further intervention. Its research found that more than 71% of businesses are planning to make over half of their workforce redundant in the coming weeks.

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