The four week delay to the final stage of easing lockdown restrictions in England will cost the hospitality sector “around £3bn in sales”, according to Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive.
According to Nicholls, the extension, which will see the remaining social distancing measures continue beyond 21 June, puts 300,000 hospitality jobs at risk and will have a “knock-on impact” on bookings throughout the summer and into the autumn.
Nicholls, who previously urged the government to stick to its original roadmap, has now called for UK officials to provide details on how it will “safeguard the future” of hospitality venues and jobs.
Particularly, the chief is looking for an extension to the business rates relief – which is set to end on 30 June.
Earlier this year, the chancellor announced a full business rates holiday for all hospitality businesses for the first quarter of the financial year (Apr-Jun) and then a 66% discount for the remainder of the year (Jul 21-Mar 22).
Nicholls said: “The hospitality sector has already lost more than £87bn in sales in the pandemic leaving businesses deeply in debt and at risk of suffering ‘economic long Covid’ without further support.
“Our businesses face incredible levels of debt and will now face a huge cost hike, with business rates payments set to recommence and rent accruals due at the end of the month.”
She added: “A swift indication that the business rates holiday will be extended would go a long way to bringing succour to a battered sector – paying any amount of tax while still unable to trade viably would save businesses and, in turn, tax receipts in longer term.”