UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls has made a plea to the government for business rates relief and for VAT discounts to be extended.
The hospitality sector has been battered by the new government’s new Covid restrictions and the messages coming out of Downing Street that a “tidal wave” of Omicron is set to hit the UK.
Nicholls said that sales have plummeted by more than a third in the last 10 days, as around £2bn in sales has been lost this month.
Nicholls added, “It is quite clear that the impact of the current guidance and restrictions has been more hard hitting on an already beleaguered hospitality sector than expected.”
She added, “It is imperative that local authorities release the discretionary grants and rate relief they have to affected businesses immediately and VAT and rate relief support is extended and not turned off prematurely.”
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association said on Wednesday evening, “Where on earth is the Chancellor of the Exchequer???
“Tonight’s press conference was the latest blow in a week of the Government’s public health messaging taking a sledge hammer to what is usually the busiest period of the year for Night Time Economy businesses.
“With the Prime Minister appearing to lack the political will to impose actual restrictions, and instead seeking to induce a pseudo-lockdown through repeated sombre-sounding announcements, our sector is now facing the worst of both worlds – a drop in footfall and no Government support to help us through.
“It is quite staggering that despite the obvious implications of the Government’s rhetoric we haven’t heard a squeak out of HM Treasury.
“The Chancellor needs to come out of hiding and outline how he will support nightlife businesses – who have already carried so much burden in the last two years – through the Omicron wave.
“Surely he can see it will only be worse for the economy in the long run if these businesses are left to try to fend off failure on their own.”
Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist, added, “Further support for struggling firms will be needed if fresh government public health measures prevent firms trading their way to recovery.
“Cash is king, so helping affected firms with cashflow, by ensuring unspent local authority grants are distributed to firms, giving firms more headroom to manage their coronavirus debt repayments and considering measures to reduce the fixed costs of businesses where demand is severely affected should be on the table.”
The chief executive of pub and brewery Shepherd Neame said his business has been thrown into a “zombie world” by the government’s messaging.
Jonathan Neame told Times Radio, “We’ve seen a significant number of cancellations and that’s accelerating every day, and will accelerate even further after the news last night, which seems to have thrown us back into that sort of zombie world of the first week of March, of the pandemic last year.”