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UKH calls for furlough extension as part of response to govt announcements

Published:  10 September, 2020

UK Hospitality (UKH) has called on the governement to extend the furlough scheme for the hospitality industry as part of its response to the new Covid measures. 

Following on from the PM’s briefing yesterday afternoon, where new measures will include a legal requirement to record customer data, no groups of more than six people to meet socially and new grants for businesses affected by local lockdowns, Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKH, said: “The PM’s statement represents a further shift towards hospitality businesses to act to protect public health. This is a challenge that the sector has already grasped and will redouble efforts to achieve, in the interest of customers and staff, and to minimise the risk of further lockdowns. 

“This will, of course, be more easily achieved with the cooperation of customers, so the measures to make clear the responsibility of individuals was equally welcome. Any fines charged against hospitality venues for breaching Covid-secure requirements must be proportionate and pertain to factors wholly under the control of the venue.”

In response to the PM stating that a later announcement would be made regarding a review of other types of gathering, such as business conferences, Nicholls urged that “any such announcement also includes the roadmap for a return to trade for nightclubs, for which we have long been asking”.

UKH also took the opportunity to call for an extension of the furlough scheme.

“On furlough, the Chief Secretary said three questions remain unanswered in terms of targeted support. Since the pandemic broke, it has become inarguably clear that hospitality is justifiably front of the queue for inclusion, and our supply chain benefits from our recovery,” said Nicholls. 

“We realise, of course, that any employment support cannot be open-ended but, based on the rate of recovery of the sector thus far, we would propose a potential winding down at the end of Q1 2021, as the sector looks forward to the summer season."

With regard to the Chief Secretary’s statement in the House of Commons, announcing grants for forcibly closed venues and criteria for furlough extension considerations, Nicholls said it was “reassuring that the government has recognised the damage closures will cause businesses”.

“The grants would cover some costs, but more detail is needed to properly assess the benefit. For example, in Bolton at present, venues can open as takeaways, so presumably are not being forcibly closed, making them ineligible for the grants. This cannot be right.”

A simpified version of the updated guidelines can be found here.

Last month, a trio of trade bodies, including UKH, send a joint letter to the hospitality sector to highlight the importance of customer data collection.