Government risks 900,000 hospitality jobs without support package

17th September, 2020 by Nicola Carruthers

Without a sector-specific support package 900,000 jobs across the hospitality sector will be at risk, UK Hospitality has warned.

At least 900,000 hospitality workers are at risk of redundancy without further support, UK Hospitality has said

Trade body UK Hospitality said the hospitality industry needs a package of employment support to help companies retain workers amid the pandemic.

The trade group’s chief executive Kate Nicholls provided evidence to the House of Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee earlier this week (15 September). While she praised the chancellor’s recent Plan for Jobs, Nicholls noted the industry was facing “huge uncertainty in demand with enormous concerns about levels of trade into the winter months”.

UK Hospitality said nearly 100,000 jobs were lost in hospitality over three months, despite the furlough system being in place.

Nicholls said: “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.”

Support measures

As such, the trade group is calling for support in a number of areas including short term working, whereby the government pays 50% of employee wages for businesses that have reopened, and enhanced support for hospitality businesses in areas under local lockdown.

In addition, UK Hospitality is urging for tailored financial support for legally closed businesses, which would provide an ongoing allowance for staff, training and rent, and a fully-funded training package for workers in areas such as city centres.

Nicholls said: “The people that work in hospitality are key to its success and we are very proud of the fact that we are the third biggest employing sector in the country. As a sector we provide fantastic employment opportunities for everyone – including offering young people their first taste of the world of work.

“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.”

Last month, UK Hospitality called on the government to provide urgent clarity on the reopening of nightclubs, which remain closed due to the pandemic.

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