Support Scheme isn’t enough, say trade groups

Hospitality industry needs “more targeted support”


HOSPITALITY trade groups have urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide greater, sector-specific support for the industry after warning that his most recent package of economic measures doesn’t go far enough.

Sunak announced today (September 24) that the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme will be replaced by a new Jobs Support Scheme in November, which will see the government contribute towards the salaries of employees that are working reduced hours due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The employer will pay the employee for the hours they work, and for the hours not worked the employer and the government will each pay a third. In this way the government hopes that employees returning to work on reduced hours will still be able to receive two-thirds of their usual wage.

Sunak also announced an extension to the current VAT cut and longer repayment times for government-guaranteed loans.

UK Hospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said that although the measures were “a step in the right direction,” the hospitality industry “needs more targeted efforts to support jobs”.

“Almost one million people in our sector are still on furlough,” said Nicholls.

“We need government to go further in hospitality, recognising the greater restrictions imposed upon us, and pick up the full cost of unworked hours. This would be a relatively low cost for huge reward for our workforce.

“Full support to sustain people in their jobs during what could be a pretty bleak winter for hospitality would be a great step forward.”

Scottish Licensed Trade Association managing director, Colin Wilkinson, said the initiatives “are not as far-reaching as we needed”.

“We are very disappointed,” said Wilkinson.

“It must be recognised that the Jobs Support Scheme is significantly less generous then the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. It is designed to back ‘viable jobs’ – and with the latest restrictions on our pubs and bars, many jobs in our sector will be unviable.

“More must be done for a sector operating under serious restrictive measures.”

The British Beer & Pub Association agreed. Chief executive Emma McClarkin said that the Job Support Scheme “will cost employers more” and the group is “not confident it is enough to protect jobs in the current trading conditions”.

And Marc Crothall of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said the new economic measures “will only help businesses which have sufficient demand to pay these minimum hours; the majority of tourism businesses simply will not be able to do so as their businesses are either closed due to legislation or restrictions”.

“The reality we must all face now is that within the coming days and weeks, business owners will lose their livelihoods, thousands will lose their income and the effects on the economy and people’s lives will be nothing short of devastating,” said Crothall.