Trade body UKHospitality (UKH), Croydon Business Improvement District (BID), the Mayor of London and Boxpark have teamed up to urge the Government to provide financial aid in a bid to soften the impact on Christmas trading.
In a Downing Street press conference last night (Wednesday 8 December), Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for the public to work from home if possible, meaning lower footfall in town and city centres.
UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The measures announced will significantly impact consumer confidence and be particularly devastating to city and town centre venues.
“As such, they risk devastating the hospitality sector amid its most important time of the year. We therefore desperately need support if we are to survive this latest set of restrictions and urge the Government to stand behind our industry.
“That means full business rates relief, grants, rent protection and extended VAT reductions. Anything less would prove catastrophic.”
Croydon BID CEO Matthew Sims called on the Government to recognise recent delays and indecision in responding to the growing trend of cases, particularly when it comes to the Omicron variant has now left on high streets reeling from the announcements made by the Prime Minister.
He added: “The devastating impact of reintroducing ‘work from home’ guidance will lead to a further reduction in consumer confidence, which will undoubtedly lead to the cancellation of Christmas parties and gatherings during the festive period and a very hard January for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.
“[The] Government must meet business halfway and introduce financial support such as a discretionary fund of the repurposing of the Additional Restrictions Grand fund and allocate to businesses most affected during the busiest time of the year. Without it, we can expect further closures on our high streets.”
The Government’s announcement asking people to work from home will have a huge impact on businesses over the festive period, according to the BID Foundation.
Chief executive Bill Addy said: “As businesses shift to working from home guidance and those affected absorb the impact of new restrictions, we once again have to point out to this Government that it is those industries which have borne the brunt of restrictions over the past 18 months that are being asked to do so again.
“Christmas is a crucial time for organisations within the city as people visit theatres, music venues, concerts and more.
“Culture, arts and entertainment lost 20% of its sector GVA due to Covid restrictions with my region, Merseyside, one of the worst regions affected.
“This sector is a major employer in our country and a vital partner for hospitality. The loss of income affects jobs, venues and risks us starting 2022 a step behind. These venues being forced to change their guidance to audiences deserve support for any loss of income.”