Hospitality needs ‘immediate’ help or risks 1m job losses

19th March, 2020 by Melita Kiely

UK Hospitality has made an urgent plea for immediate employment support as it warned more than one million jobs could be lost in 24 hours as consumers avoid on-trade venues following government advice over the covid-19 oubreak.

On-trade

UK Hospitality has warned more than one million jobs could be lost in 24 hours without immediate government support

On Monday 16 March, UK prime minister Boris Johnson told the British public to avoid pubs, clubs and social venues in a bid to mitigate the impact of coronavirus.

On Tuesday evening (17 March), UK chancellor Rishi Sunak guaranteed a £330 billion (US$398bn) package of loans and grants to help businesses during the coronavirus outbreak – and assured it would allow firms to claim against insurance policies over pandemic losses. However, these are not expected to come into effect until next week at the earliest.

UK Hospitality has now warned employers face making “immediate mass redundancies in order to survive” as pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and leisure attractions experience a drastic decline in customers due to the covid-19 outbreak.

The trade organisation estimates that across the UK hospitality industry, between 200,000 and 250,000 jobs have already been cut in the past two weeks, most of which have come about over the last few days.

Without help, UK Hospitality warned “many more will be lost in the coming days” as businesses are forced to take “shocking” action.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality, said: “Our analysis suggests in excess of one million jobs are now on the line. Job cuts are extraordinarily deep and they are happening now – today and tomorrow, and are snowballing.

“Companies are having to make the very difficult decisions now and with many hospitality and leisure businesses now having to choose to close or massively reduce their operations, there is little chance of saving many jobs without far-reaching help.

“What the sector urgently needs is a package of support and funding to keep people in employment. This needs to happen now – within 24 hours.

“While the extra measures announced [on Tuesday 17 March] represent significant help that will give many companies a lifeline, the massive issue remains people and preservation of jobs.

“What was announced by the chancellor [on Tuesday] will not stop job losses as companies will be very worried about taking loans to pay staff when they have zero income – for many, it just isn’t viable.

“It’s about helping individual people to preserve their employment status, and to avoid swamping the already-strained welfare system. It will also allow companies to keep their teams and be ready to aid the economic recovery when stability returns.”

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