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Hospitality chefs welcome the emergency support program – but beware, more help may be needed

Executives in the hospitality and leisure industry have welcomed the Chancellor’s recently announced £ 1billion emergency support package, but have warned that more aid may be needed.

Rishi Sunak today unveiled measures to help consumer-facing companies hardest hit by the pre-Christmas trade slump caused by the Omicron surge.

Eligible businesses will be able to apply for one-time grants of up to £ 6,000 per local as part of a support program that also includes more money to help small businesses cover the costs of statutory sickness benefits.

Business leaders had demanded government support over the past week, after Plan B’s work from home order and mistrust of the capture of the highly transmissible variant before Christmas saw bookings devastated in two of the industry’s crucial business weeks of the year.

Many pubs, restaurants and gyms in central London had already closed early.

Hotel businesses in the region saw a 70% drop in revenue, double the levels in the rest of the country.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality business organization, said the package is “generous” and “will help secure jobs and the viability of businesses in the short term, especially among smaller businesses in the sector.”

The companies in the supply chain will be the main beneficiaries, she said.

Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association, said the support program would be “a vital lifeline for many”.

But she cautioned: “It will be absolutely essential that the government continue to monitor and support our sector for the long term as we overcome the pandemic and into the recovery.

“Ensure that our pubs and brewers continue to have the support they need, including additional financial support if new restrictions are introduced, as well as a clear timeline for lifting these measures. “

Shevaun Haviland, managing director of the UK chambers of commerce, said the subsidies need to get to businesses quickly. (There have been numerous reports that supportive grants took a long time to reach business owners during the January shutdown of last year because the money had been in local councils for long periods of time. periods).

Haviland said: “While these measures are a positive starting point, if restrictions persist or are further tightened, we would need to see a broader support package, equal to the scale of any new measure, put in place. . “

Business groups are also asking for longer-term measures such as the extension of the 12.5% ​​VAT rate for hospitality beyond next April, lower prices for businesses, a moratorium on deportations and the reintroduction of a flexible leave system.

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