UKHospitality has warned at least 900,000 UK hospitality jobs are at risk unless the government offers a sector-specific package of employment support that helps businesses retain valuable workers.
Giving evidence to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee yesterday (Tuesday, 15 September), chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured) praised the chancellor’s recent Plan for Jobs in assisting businesses to retain employees, but said the hospitality sector was facing huge uncertainty in demand with enormous concerns about levels of trade into the winter months.
UKHospitality is calling for support in a number of areas, including short-term working, with the government to part-fund hours for businesses that have returned – up to 50% of wages for those back at work.
In terms of local lock-downs, the trade body has urged enhanced support for hospitality businesses that are closed (or part-closed) – to cover 50% of wages if the remainder is paid by the employer.
UKHospitality said a bespoke financial support package should be available for legally closed businesses – to include an ongoing allowance for staff, training and rent – as well as a fully-funded training packages for employees in depressed areas such as city centres.
Kate Nicholls said, “It is undeniable that this crisis has massively damaged our ability to employ. Parts of the sector remain closed; a whole range of activities are not permitted; and the rest remains substantially below capacity. As a sector we have utilised flexible furlough to get as many people as possible back into the world of work, but we are at a very delicate stage.
“Redundancies have risen, driven by Company Voluntary Agreements caused by landlords demanding rent payments. Of those staff that remain around half are back at work. A further 16% are on flexible furlough. Just over a third of the sector remains on full furlough. We are concerned that this leaves at least 900,000 people in our sector at risk of redundancy without further support.”
“The hospitality sector has a proven track record in delivering jobs growth. But we need Government to be flexible in its approach and to provide the necessary support over the bleak winter months in order for our sector to continue to play a role in the economic recovery.”