Hospitality & Tourism

"You must act now for our industry to survive the winter" hospitality group tells government

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: November 6, 2020 | Updated: 7th November 2020

The message is blunt and to the point.

Act now or our industry will not survive the next few months.

It’s delivered in a hard-hitting letter to PM Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, by Andy Lennox, Founder of The Wonky Table, pictured left.

The group represents more than 500 restaurants, bars, clubs, pubs, event management businesses and venues in the BCP and Wimborne area.

The letter also has the backing of 14 other organisations, including Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) as well BCP Council leader Cllr Drew Mellor and MPs Tobias Ellwood and Sir Desmond Swayne.

Urging the government to carry on supporting the hospitality industry, the letter states: “The money spent over the last six months will all be in vain if a further robust financial package is not put in place immediately.

“The government must act now for our industry to survive the winter.

“Whilst we welcome the return of 80% furlough – this protects employee’s jobs, but we must be here to pay them.

“With the current support package in place, many will not be.

“Businesses are now set for zero trade up to Christmas and a potentially very weak Christmas.

“We will then enter the historically quiet quarter of January to March in 2021 without the traditional reserves of November and December trade – not to mention the extra pressure we already have on our businesses carried over from the initial lockdown.

“To have some hope of survival, we need to see a package of financial support which will not only help with the immediate impact but also for the recovery in 2021.

  1. Hospitality Specific Grant: We need a new sector specific grant to help towards fixed costs during this period and beyond. This must include all rateable values within the hospitality industry and must include NTE (night time economy) and event sectors (some of which have still received no support to date and therefore must be first in line). This must go much further than the current “up to£3k” grant businesses are entitled to and be more robust in nature – much like the grant paid in March to the hospitality industry. A substantial grant is an absolute priority.
  2. Extension of VAT at 5%: The reduction of VAT to 5% was an incredibly important element of the first lockdown recovery and in these unprecedented times we believe this should be continued indefinitely. The UK hospitality trade is one of the highest taxed industries in the world. The extension of the reduction of VAT at 5% would not only aid the recovery of the industry but would also encourage further growth. It would also be fairer to our industry and ultimately more tax would be paid in the long run. This is an absolute lifeline for our industry.
  3. The removal of the restriction of off sales of alcohol: Businesses must be able to operate takeaway/delivery off sales of alcohol if they have the appropriate license. The restriction of this goes against the first lockdown as well as giving massive disparity between the supermarkets and the hospitality industry. Those with the appropriate license should be able to trade as per their license. The removal of the restriction must happen immediately.
  4. Extension of rate relief for another 12 months: Rate relief must be extended for another 12 months to help with the recovery of our industry into 2021. We would urge the government to confirm this action now to help the industry plan for the future.
  5. Emergency extension of Bounce Back Loans (BBL) and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS): Whilst we understand that there is some work going on in regard to BBL/CBILs loans and its new successor loan for January, any successor loan in the pipeline should be brought forward immediately to help cashflow through the next six months and help the industry plan for recovery. If a successor loan is not ready, then limits on BBL and CBILS should be increased.

The letter concludes: “We hope that the government will consider these proposals as a collective and an essential extension of the lifeline which the hospitality industry needs to survive the current situation.

“Whilst this letter is sent on behalf of over 500 businesses represented by The Wonky Table it also supported by various other affiliated groups who have all signalled their support alongside the BIDs in the conurbation which additionally represent thousands of other businesses in the area.

“It also includes signatories of the Leader of BCP Council and the signatories of some of our local MPs.”

The letter is signed by Andy Lennox who founded The Wonky Table at the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

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