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Wed 4th Nov 2020 - Trade bodies demand government support to secure future of pubs, hospitality and supply chains
Trade bodies demand government support to secure future of pubs, hospitality and supply chains: Trade bodies representing UK hospitality, pubs and supply chain businesses have called on the government to provide a six-month investment plan to secure the future of those sectors. In a letter to the chancellor, UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association, British Institute of Innkeeping, Campaign for Real Ale, Society of Independent Brewers and Pub is the Hub have outlined details of the necessary support plan. Without this support, the letter states, many viable businesses will fail with significant job losses and impact the long-term prospects of the UK’s economy. The letter calls for employment support, guaranteeing 80% of wages to continue for businesses beyond the national lockdown, with flexible support available throughout the next six-months; a more sustainable round of grants in line with the first lockdown to adequately cover ongoing fixed costs, with payment as soon as possible, which must allow access to the full State Aid allowance of €3m per business – and potentially more once the UK is no longer subject to EU rules; an extension to the rent enforcement moratorium to June 2021 to protect businesses and bring partners to the table; a reduced rate of VAT for hospitality through the whole of 2021 and a business rates holiday for 2021/22; and investment in British brewing via beer duty support and a compensation scheme for brewers for unsold beer and returned stock. In a joint statement, the trade bodies said: “Hospitality businesses and pubs were the first hit by this crisis, and they have been the hardest hit. They have existed through nine months of forced closures or severe restrictions. The government has recognised the unique challenges facing our sector and we are grateful of the support it has provided. It is not enough, though. Our sector has been hit with job losses and venue closures, with the pain being felt across the entire breadth of the industry down to supply chain businesses, which are also suffering. We are still on a knife-edge. More than 90% of fully covid-secure, hospitality and pub businesses are operating at a loss, thousands of otherwise viable businesses in tier three and tier two areas had already closed. Debt continues to build to unsustainable levels and turnover is at a fraction of normal trading. We are entering this next phase of national lockdown in a critically vulnerable position. It is crucial the government provides long-term financial support that goes well beyond what has already been announced. These are viable businesses that, if kept secure, can lead the revival of the economy in 2021. It is a sector that, prior to covid, directly provided 3.2 million jobs across every part of the UK, and a further one million in dependent supply chains, with vital economic and social hubs in every region. By every conceivable measure, it makes sense for the government to support hospitality and pub businesses as well as their supply chain partners. We can be in the vanguard of economic recovery next year, driving growth, creating jobs and providing billions in vital tax revenues into the future, but only if we survive this perilous moment.”

Leisure market sees net units decline by more than 1,200 in first half of 2020, independents more resilient than chains: The leisure and hospitality market declined by a net 1,263 units in the first half of 2020 compared with 352 the previous year – an increase of 259%, according to research by the Local Data Company. The findings showed the independent retail and leisure market was much more resilient than chains. The net change in the number of occupied units was less than a third (minus 1,833) of the figure for chains (minus 6,001). A total of 64% of the retail and leisure market is comprised of independent businesses. Therefore, the scale of this variance is even greater in percentage terms with independent businesses declining by 0.54% compared with 2.77% for the chain units. In total, the retail and leisure market declined by 7,834 units in the first half of the year – a 115% increase from the decline seen in the previous year (minus 3,647). Openings increased compared with the previous year, at 23,305 – up from 22,115. However, this was not enough to balance out the closures, which increased by 5,377 compared with 2019 (31,139 closures). This equates to a 21% increase in the total number of closures as businesses struggled to survive in the face of the covid-19 pandemic. Comparison goods retail accounted for 64% of all lost units in the first half of 2020 – a net loss of 4,975 stores. The only sector to see an improvement in net decline compared with the previous year was convenience with a net loss of 768 in the first half of 2020 compared with 787 the year before. Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at the Local Data Company, said: “While there is no denying the impact of the pandemic on these sectors, this likely represents the inevitable structural change required albeit more painful as a result of the velocity and abruptness. With independents adapting well, new entrants still acquiring stores and sectors such as personal grooming continuing to thrive, there is no doubt we will eventually get to a more condensed yet diverse and exciting retail and hospitality landscape as businesses and places acclimatise.”

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