Following the Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Covid-19 financial support announcement earlier today, hospitality and drinks industry trade bodies have responded asking for more targeted help
UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said that the latest announcement is a move in the right direction, however she urged the ‘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’.
She added that the extension of the VAT cut ‘was absolutely critical’, however stressed that it ‘must be extended further’.
‘Things were looking grim for our sector yesterday and we were desperately hoping for some good news,’ she concluded. ‘The Chancellor has given us some reason to be positive again, but we urge him to engage with the trade on specific measures to keep people in work. While some of these measures announced today will give businesses a future to shoot for, and hope that they can begin to rebuild, we are still not out of the woods.’
Meanwhile, chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), James Calder welcomes Sunak’s new scheme too, yet in line with Nicholls highlighted that ‘it does not address the serious issues facing the brewing and hospitality industries which have been amongst the worst impacted by coronavirus. Without targeted support for the beer, brewing and broader hospitality industry, which has been specifically targeted by new restrictions, then we will see widespread business closures’.
Calder also commented on the extension of the VAT cut, which he said is ‘welcome for many pubs, [but] it does not apply to beer or alcohol sales so is not available to wet-led community pubs which do not serve food’.
CAMRA's Nik Antona mirrored Calder's response, but picked up on Sunak's specification of only 'viable businesses' being eligible. 'We are glad that the Chancellor has listened to industry calls for action on jobs. However, those jobs will not exist if pubs and breweries are not viable businesses,' he explained.
'While we wait for further details, what we've heard does not go far enough to support pubs, especially wet-led pubs, or breweries and the wider supply chain which – as we've seen from recent industry statistics – is going to be massively impacted by new restrictions, with job losses and potential closures before Christmas,' he continued.
'What the hospitality industry needs is a support package including an extension of the business rates holiday, grants rather than loans, consideration of a differential rate of duty on draft beer served in pubs and real support for wet-led pubs which cannot benefit from the VAT cut extension.'