Business leaders call on Chancellor to back hospitality sector in 2021

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Business leaders and UKHospitality call on Chancellor to back hospitality sector in 2021

Related tags ukhospitality Coronavirus lockdown Government

Over 160 hospitality CEOs have called on the Chancellor to extend the VAT cut and rates holiday, and provide a decisive package of financial support in next month’s Budget.

In a joint letter co-ordinated by trade body UKHospitality, the leaders call for decisive support to help the sector survive and drive the economic recovery of the country as it emerges from the Covid crisis.

Azzurri CEO Steve Holmes, D&D London chairman Des Gunewardena and PizzaExpress chief executive Zoe Bowley are among the signatories. 

Two key areas of Government support are highlighted within the letter, which the sector says must be delivered for it to play a key role in rebuilding the economy.

They are an extension of the 5% rate of VAT for hospitality for another year, expanded to the wider sector; and the continuation of the business rates holiday for hospitality for the whole of the 2021/22 financial year to give businesses valuable breathing room to rebuild and address mounting rent debt.

"Despite the carnage of the past twelve months, hospitality businesses are ready to pick up the pieces of a battered economy and help spearhead our economic revival," says Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality.

"Although the end of the health crisis is not quite here, there are positive signs that we are making real progress in the battle against Covid. We are hopeful that, in the coming weeks and months, we can begin to welcome customers back and we know that people will be eager to socialise with their friends and families safely in our venues.

“That means we need to start laying the groundwork now. We need to make sure that the hospitality sector is in the best possible position to help rebuild as we done in the past. After the 2008 financial crisis, one in six new jobs created in the UK were in hospitality. If the Government backs our sector and gives us the support we need and deserve, we can play a key role in helping it achieve its aims of levelling-up people and communities across the country."

Additionally, the letter calls on the Government to provide a decisive package of fundamental support including an extension of the furlough scheme; improved loan repayment terms to increase liquidity; deferral of Government-owed debt; and replacement of the Job Retention Bonus.

“Lots of businesses have taken a beating and many are still only just clinging on," adds Nicholls.

The support that the Government has provided in the past year has been crucial in keeping businesses alive, giving them breathing room and allowing them to keep jobs safe. That support must continue if we want to see as many businesses and jobs secure as possible, and hospitality play the key role we know it can play in rebuilding.

"There is no point in the Government undoing all the good work it has done in 2020 by pulling the rug from under us as we get back on our feet.”

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