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Fri 27th Mar 2020 - UKHospitality calls on chancellor to urgently clarify details of coronavirus job and emergency funding schemes
UKHospitality calls on chancellor to urgently clarify details of coronavirus job and emergency funding schemes: UKHospitality has written to the chancellor calling for urgent clarification on the details of the government-backed funding available to business and the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The trade body is warning thousands of pubs, restaurants, bars, hotels and leisure attractions are experiencing difficulties accessing loan schemes and without this liquidity are unlikely to be able to survive long enough to access the CJRS, resulting in hundreds of thousands of more jobs lost. UKHospitality estimates already across the sector, in the three weeks since the impact of the coronavirus was truly felt in the UK, the industry has shorn around 500,000 jobs, with an additional 500,000 seasonal workers no longer being offered jobs. A further one million jobs-plus are on the line and will be protected if access to loans unlocks and companies receive clarification on when the CJRS funding will flow. In its letter, UKHospitality has outlined a number of areas on the CJRS that require clarification and highlights firms’ experience of accessing funds from banks under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme has been almost universally negative. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “In trying to get these loans into companies our banks appear to be applying their normal rules of business – rules that were created and put in place for very good reasons in normal times but now need to give way to emergency measures that deliver the oxygen of working cash to companies and their staff in this emergency environment. We have a squeezed middle of companies that currently cannot access either of the government-backed loan schemes, which will result in some having to wait for alternative government help, such as the wage guarantee scheme at the end of April.” The trade body also wants furloughed employees to be given the freedom to volunteer for good causes during this period, helping the community or contributing towards the army of NHS volunteers needed. In addition, the group believes there are grounds for employees to supplement key workers in other sectors on a short-term basis, and said individuals should not be penalised for this.

Pub and restaurant sales fall 71% in last week of trading before shut-down: Like-for-like sales in Britain’s managed pub, bar and restaurant groups plummeted 71% in the week the government ordered all licensed premises to close, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Like-for-like trading in restaurant chains was down 75% during the period, with managed pubs down 67% and bars, which depend more on weekend business, tumbling 88%. Phil Tate, group chief executive of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM, said: “It was clear more businesses would have shut up shop anyway, even without the closure and then lock-down orders, as CGA’s snap consumer poll showed more of the public were going to give up on even attempting to go out.”

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