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Hospitality sector calls for further support

UKHospitality is calling on the chancellor Rishi Sunak for further support in helping the sector emerge from the effects of the pandemic.

The latest hospitality sales tracker for the first quarter of 2021 shows that the last year has seen a two-thirds loss of trade for the sector – equating to a fall in revenue of £80bn. Even now, only around a quarter of hospitality businesses have reopened with sales massively subdued due to outdoor trading being hit hard by poor weather. Data from CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker shows the crucial Bank Holiday weekend was a washout for many operators, and drinks sales on Sunday (2 May) were down by 35 per cent on the same Sunday in 2019 and dipped even further on Bank Holiday Monday (3 May) – down 66 per cetn.

In a letter to the chancellor, UKHospitality warns that the Treasury must stand ready to deliver extra support measures if there is any slippage in the roadmap. The trade association is calling on the chancellor to encourage the full lifting of restrictions beyond 21st June to ensure that hospitality can return to full strength, along with an early announcement for support should this not be possible.

The letter also highlights ongoing issues that sector businesses are experiencing when it comes to access to capital. While government loan schemes have been received positively, UKH says there are real concerns in the sector about their rollout with many operators reporting that banks are denying them access to critical funding. As a potential solution to this challenge, UKH proposes working with the Treasury to develop a more targeted loan scheme that recognises the particular difficulties that the hospitality sector faces.

“The hospitality sector stands ready to play its part in helping to power the recovery, create jobs and reinvigorate local communities, but that will only be possible if our businesses return to viability at the earliest opportunity,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality.

“Firstly, we need the government to deliver on its commitment to dropping Covid restrictions and measures on 21st June. But even then, many companies will be facing huge rent debts and other business costs so access to capital through loans is critical to ensure they can get back on their feet again as soon as possible.

“The revitalisation of hospitality will yield a substantial return on investment – in terms of economic growth, employment, levelling up, high street regeneration and government revenues. Brighter days are ahead but we urge the Chancellor to ensure that his welcome and substantial support for the sector doesn’t go to waste.”

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