Whilst the Chancellor’s announcement of business support is helpful, it isn’t the bailout businesses across the UK need and have been waiting for since Plan B was announced over two weeks ago. A £1bn package of support sounds impressive, but is a headline that distracts from the true reality that hospitality businesses are facing.
A £6,000 grant does not compensate for the dramatic loss in trading hospitality, retail and leisure businesses in particular are facing, especially when many are carrying a significant debt burden already and would typically expect to make 40-50% of their annual profits in the run-up to Christmas.
With speculation mounting of further restrictions, we need the Government to ensure any announcement is accompanied with a revised raft of financial support and measures to ensure hospitality, retail and leisure businesses get the support they need.
We need to act now to do more to support the businesses we love and cherish. And that is why we have joined 100s of other BIDs and industry bodies in writing to the Prime Minster to urge government to provide a ‘Business Booster’ of support measures as many businesses struggle to survive, with an estimated £4bn already lost by the hospitality sector alone.
The Business Booster campaign outlines three support measures which are needed to secure the future of retail, hospitality and leisure businesses:
- An increase of business rates relief, from the current 25% discount to 100% discount, for the first three months of 2022, followed by tapering support of 50% Business Rate Relief from 1stApril 2022 through to 30th June 2022.
- An extension to VAT reduction, to 31 March 2023 at 12.5%, to allow the hospitality, retail and leisure sector to respond and support the re-emergence of the UK economy.
- Grants up to £15,000 by rateable value to businesses within the hospitality, retail and leisure sector to enable them to survive in light of a festive trading period in tatters, a bleak outlook for the new Year and the impending rent quarter date of 25th December 2021.
We want to see financial support that is commensurate with the level of restrictions, given that December is a key trading period for business.
To help support this call for support, please fill in this short financial impact survey which is being run by Tourism Alliance, working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to build evidence on the impacts that Plan B and the Omicron variant are having on businesses in the Tourism and Hospitality sectors. If you are a retail business or other business not listed, select “other” and fill in your sector).
By taking part in the survey you will be providing the Government with a better understanding of the position of businesses in these sectors, demonstrate the severity of the issues that you are facing and provide valuable evidence of the need for Government intervention. This information will be used to make the case for policy solutions and interventions across Government to mitigate the financial pressures businesses are experiencing.
The UK’s hospitality sector is bracing itself for a £4bn hit in festive sales with the new ‘work from home’ directive reducing the UK’s hospitality sector ability to claw back much needed income this Christmas. Reintroducing the ‘work from home’ guidance has diminished consumer confidence, resulting in cancellations of bookings during the critical festive trading period.
UKHospitality, Croydon BID, Mayor of London and Boxpark have joined the call on behalf of the UK’s hospitality sector for an urgent financial support to soften the blow to Christmas trading from new COVID guidelines by redirecting unspent grants available to the sector or by introducing new alternatives such as a discretionary fund to be administered by local authorities.
This call is further backed by the Association of Town and City Management, The BID Foundation, British BIDs and Night Time Industries Association who together collectively represent over 100,000 hospitality businesses.
Kate Nicholls, CEO, UKHospitality said, “The measures announced today will significantly impact consumer confidence and be particularly devastating to city and town centre venues. As such, they risk devastating the hospitality sector amid its most important time of the year. We therefore desperately need support if we are to survive this latest set of restrictions and urge the government to stand behind our industry. That means full business rates relief, grants, rent protection and extended VAT reductions. Anything less would prove catastrophic.”
Matthew Sims, CEO, Croydon BID said, “Government must recognise that recent delays and indecision in responding to the growing trend of cases particularly with respect to Omricon has now left our high streets reeling from the announcements made by our Prime Minister today. The devastating impact of reintroducing ‘work from home’ guidance will lead to a further reduction in consumer confidence which will undoubtedly lead to the cancellation of Christmas parties and gatherings during the festive period and a very hard January for the retail hospitality and leisure sectors. Government must meet business halfway and introduce financial support such as a discretionary fund or the repurposing of The Additional Restrictions Grant fund and allocate to businesses most affected during the busiest time of the year. Without it, we can expect further closures on our high streets.”
Bill Addy, Chief Executive, BID Foundation: “As businesses shift to working from home guidance and those affected absorb the impact of new restrictions, we once again have to point out to this Government that it is those industries who have borne the brunt of restrictions over the past 18 months who are being asked to do so again. Christmas is a crucial time for organisations within the city as people visit theatres, music venues, concerts and more. Culture, arts and entertainment lost 20% of its sector GVA due to COVID restrictions, with my region Merseyside one of the worst regions affected. This sector is a major employer in our country and a vital partner for hospitality. The loss of income affects jobs, venues and risks us starting 2022 a step behind. These venues being forced to change their guidance to audiences deserve support for any loss of income.”
Professor Chris Turner of British BIDs said: “This plan B is a further disaster for many parts of the High Street. The food and beverage industry was starting to recover well from the lockdown and was planning for Christmas to be a vital part of its reopening. The government’s delays in announcing this; the lack of financial support for the food and beverage industry, and the lack of certainty about office parties, markets and the use of facemasks has been a tragedy. The further lack of clarity on “working from home” is making the situation even worse. We absolutely need some assistance for those industries affected, and we need the help now.”