VAT cut and October bank holiday among parliamentary group asks

Cross-party group’s report makes the case for further support from Westminster

A CUT in the UK’s VAT rate and the creation of an October bank holiday to offset the missed opportunities during lockdown are among the recommendations included in a new report from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Hospitality and Tourism.

The group, an informal collection of Westminster politicians with Conservative, Labour and SNP members, worked with trade group UK Hospitality to compile the 50-page report, titled Pathways to Recovery.

As well as detailing the scale of the damage done to the hospitality and tourism sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, it puts forward several recommendations for measures the UK Government could adopt to help the industry recover.

These include cutting the VAT rate to 10% and the creation of an October bank holiday to encourage ‘staycations’ as well as action on commercial rents, continued financial support for businesses and a further extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Steve Double, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Hospitality and Tourism, said: “The UK’s hospitality and tourism sectors have been devastated by the COVID-19 crisis and this report highlights the scale of the damage done to businesses.

“These are two of the most important parts of our economy and our inquiry has highlighted the importance of supporting these vital sectors in both the immediate and long term.

“Whilst the support provided to the sector so far has been very welcomed, we are under no illusions that the path to recovery will be tough. This report and its recommendations provide the government with a blueprint for supporting businesses. There is every reason to believe that businesses can bounce back if they have the correct support from Westminster and devolved governments.”

UK Hospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said hospitality and tourism “were some of the first sectors to take a noticeable hit, even before lockdown began”.

“The reality is that these sectors will also be two of the last to fully emerge and it will take time for employers to get back up to anywhere near full speed,” she said.

“If the government is positive and decisive in delivering support for these sectors, then the job will be made much easier. Businesses will be saved and jobs all around the country kept secure. We hope that the government acts on the recommendations in this report. Otherwise, the road back will be a long and hard one.”