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Mon 6th Jul 2020 - Sector calls on government for ambitious package of business investment
Sector calls on government for ambitious package of business investment: About 120 industry leaders have written to the prime minister urging the government to commit to an ambitious programme of business support and investment to stimulate the revival of the sector following the devastation caused by the coronavirus crisis. Leaders of businesses across the spectrum have signed the letter, which calls on the government to act decisively for a sector that was one of the first to be hit by the crisis, was hit harder than other and is likely to be hit longer than others. According to UKHospitality, sales across the sector are expected to be 56% lower than last year, reducing revenues by £73.4bn, and half of businesses do not expect to reach break-even until the end of next year. The letter sets out three recommended areas in which the government can support businesses – restart, recover and revive. Under restart, the letter calls for extending the deferral of all tax liabilities currently falling due in July (eg PAYE) to cover the closure and reopening period in full; removing the obligation to pay interest on late payment as well as establishing a targeted hospitality, leisure and retail property bounceback grant to cover a proportion of rent debt during closure, reopening and recovery to break the impasse on rents. Under “recovery”, business leaders are asking the government to boost confidence, demand and incentivise spend by temporarily reducing VAT to 5% for the industry and protect jobs by allowing hospitality employers to access full furlough to the end of October and doubling the employer National Insurance contribution threshold. Under “revive”, the letter calls for an extension of the hospitality business rates holiday to March 2022 ahead of fundamental reform of the business tax system. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Our sector has been a high-profile casualty of this crisis and businesses are only now just beginning to reopen. For those businesses that have survived, the hard work begins now. We cannot assume we are now in the clear just because our doors are open again. Many businesses have taken huge hits and hundreds of thousands of jobs are still in the balance. If we want to make a real success of this reopening, keep businesses alive and jobs secure, then the government needs to provide support. Support from the government has been extremely helpful in keeping venues afloat and it has saved jobs. There is no possibility of stopping now, though. Anything less than a full show of support from the government risks undoing much of the good work that has already been done and will cause lasting damage to employment and the UK economy. We urge the government to act decisively and positively to give hospitality the best possible chance of not only surviving the crisis but thriving in the aftermath.”

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