Chancellor accused of 'going into hiding' as hospitality seeks financial assurances

By Restaurant

- Last updated on GMT

Chancellor accused of 'going into hiding' as hospitality seeks financial assurances

Related tags Omicron Plan B Restaurant Hotel Night time economy

The night-time industry has accused Chancellor Rishi Sunak of going into hiding after receiving no assurance of financial support from the Government following the spread of the Omicron variant.

Reacting to a Downing Street press conference in which people were told to work from home, Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said the Government’s public health messaging took “a sledge hammer” to what is usually the busiest period of the year for hospitality businesses.

“Where on earth is the Chancellor of the Exchequer?” he said.

“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.”

According to newspaper reports, Sunak has been in California on a four-day official trip, prompting the Trades Union Congress to describe him as going “missing in action”.

The NTIA has also voiced its disappointment at the introduction yesterday (15 December) of Covid passes for nightclubs.

Under the new rules, people will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test (within the past 48 hours) at large indoor venues, including nightclubs, in England.

The proposals were voted through despite a Tory rebellion with nearly 100 Conservative MPs voting against them.

“The NTIA have consistently opposed their introduction due to the many logistical challenges they pose for night time economy businesses and what we have seen in Scotland and Wales where they have dampened trade by 30% and 26% respectively,” said Kill.

“It is very disappointing that, after flip flopping on the issue twice, the Government have decided to press ahead with the plans despite no evidence of their impact on transmission of the virus.”

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