Hospitality can ‘spearhead economic recovery’

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Devastating effect: coronavirus measures saw accommodation and food services decline by 0.37% in November
Devastating effect: coronavirus measures saw accommodation and food services decline by 0.37% in November

Related tags: England, London

The hospitality sector can “spearhead” the country’s economic growth but only if supported through the coronavirus crisis, a trade body has said.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that GDP grew by 0.4% in October but accommodation and food services declined by 0.37% compared to September.

It is expected the November figures will be considerably lower given the national four-week lockdown in England.

There was a growth figure of 1.1% in September when hospitality was subject to more liberal rules.

'Even keel'

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The impact of the restrictions on the hospitality sector has been so severe that it has effectively halved the country’s economic growth. Ours is the only sector seeing real negative growth. As a country, we could have seen almost double the growth had our sector only been able to stay on an even keel."

Nicholls said some restrictions “were brought in without hard evidence to support them,” in reference to comments made by a Government adviser about the 10pm curfew.

“The evidence for others is weak at best,” she added.

“These figures should leave nobody in any doubt that the restrictions being placed on us are having a devastating effect and go well beyond anything being experienced in other sectors. The frightening reality is that these figures are going to look tame compared to those for November and December when the lockdown was in effect and as the new, harsher tier system began to bite.”

The Government should “look carefully” at the ONS figures before deciding on placing more areas into higher tiers, Nicholls added. 

Her words come as it is feared London may soon enter tier three after rising case rates.

Survival crucial 

Nicholls added: “If we can take a positive from this, it is that the stats make the case for the importance of our sector economically plain for all to see. If we are supported adequately through the tail of this crisis, our businesses can spearhead the country’s economic recovery. But, it will only be able to do so if it survives the next few months.”

Overall sales across all pubs in the UK last weekend were 84% lower than last year, a survey by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has found.

The BBPA found that only four in 10 pubs opened across the UK this weekend.

Its chief executive Emma McClarkin called on the Government to review the restrictions on pubs or offer more financial support to help them through the next few months.

“These numbers illustrate the perilous situation our pubs find themselves in this Christmas. The tier restrictions that have been unfairly placed on our pubs are killing them. This must change, or thousands of pubs simply won’t survive.  

“How else can the Government expect our pubs to survive if they cannot open or operate properly? It is cruel and unfair on hardworking publicans up and down the country who have more than played their part in fighting the virus.”

Related topics: Legislation

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