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Tue 10th Mar 2020 - UKHospitality calls for immediate wide-ranging business support to deal with coronavirus threat
UKHospitality calls for immediate wide-ranging business support to deal with coronavirus threat: Sector businesses need immediate and wide-ranging support to deal with the threat of the coronavirus, according to trade body UKHospitality. The organisation, which represents 700 businesses, has written to prime minister Boris Johnson highlighting the impact of covid-19 already being felt businesses around the country. It said hotel occupancy has fallen 15% while eating and drinking out has declined by 7%. UKHospitality has also warned forward bookings across hotels, restaurants, pubs and bars has fallen by up to 50%. With businesses likely to be hit further as self-isolation becomes more widespread, the letter calls on the government to implement urgent measures. These include a moratorium on business rates for a minimum of three months, extendable dependent on the extent of virus spread; and for any quarantined area to have business rates annulled for the period of non-trading. It has also called for business payment delay on VAT, PAYE and National Insurance Contributions to ease cash flow. UKHospitality also wants a VAT cut for hospitality and tourism, to incentivise bookings, so trade can resume as quickly as possible when the virus threat subsides. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Hospitality businesses are on the front line, so to speak. There has been a significant impact on the sector. Bookings are down, footfall is down, and all signs point to it getting worse before it gets better. This is now an emergency for our sector. If government doesn’t act to mitigate the impact and give us support, businesses are in danger. This means cash flow becomes a problem, venues are under threat and jobs at risk. By the time the immediate threat of the virus has subsided it may be too late for some businesses. Support is needed and it is needed now.”


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