THOUSANDS of cafe and bar jobs face the axe by May if the Government does not help the industry, a trade group has warned.
Lobby group UK Hospitality said coronavirus was an “existential threat” to the sector which employs nearly 10 per cent of the country’s workforce.
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The group wants to change laws to allow temporary staff redundancies.
UK Hospitality boss Kate Nicholls said, without help, “a significant number” of jobs could vanish by as soon as May.
In the letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Ms Nicholls suggested broader support, which includes introducing measures “to permit temporary staff redundancies where demand falls substantially — with Universal Credit covering wage costs”.
Other government policies UK Hospitality would like to see include a business rates holiday for all businesses.
It is also suggested that all payments to HMRC could be suspended for three months and Government Statutory Sick Pay payments to all hospitality businesses.
‘INTERVENTION NEEDED BY NEXT WEEK’
Ms Nicholls said some of the largest hotel chains, pub chains and casual dining brands all “run the risk of not existing going forward”, such is the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is business-critical — these are cash businesses, put simply, if you don’t have people coming through the door, you will run out of cash very quickly.
“So we are talking about intervention that is needed next week to make sure that in six to eight weeks these businesses continue to trade, and if we don’t get that support, by May, we will be facing business failures and a significant number of jobs at risk.”
She added: “This is affecting hospitality companies of all sizes and shapes…it’s high street businesses that are seeing footfall decline, so your pubs, bars, your cafes where you pop in for a sandwich, but also it’s the larger companies across the sector — they are the firms that employing the most people.”
Martin Williams, chief executive of M Restaurants and Gaucho, told The Caterer: “It is very unhelpful that the government is saying don’t socialise.
“We should take it seriously, but the media have made it the single narrative, which is scaring a lot of people.
“It’s also scaring our staff who we are trying to reassure.
“I’m not sure they can be scared much more – first off they’re scared of losing their jobs because of the immigration policy, now they’re scared they’re going to die.”
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