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UKH calls for govt to earmark ‘Tesco hand back’ for hospitality

Published:  02 December, 2020

UK Hospitality (UKH) has called for the establishment of a Hospitality and Tourism Recovery Fund to support hospitality businesses that have not received any grant support and are at risk of closure.

The move follows the news that supermarket Tesco is repaying £585m worth of business rates relief to the government that it received as support during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are calling on the government to earmark that money, to create a fund for those hospitality and tourism businesses that are at high risk of failure, have been closed since March or that have had no grant support, similar to the Cultural Recovery Fund,” said Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKH. 

A Hospitality and Tourism Recovery Fund, including rent support to preserve the future of the high streets, would deliver a “huge boost to businesses that are only just clinging onto life right when they need it most”, she added.

“It is an admirable and altruistic gesture from a company that is clearly in a much better financial situation than the vast majority of the those in hospitality. The question now is what happens to this money, which the government had intended to invest in supporting businesses.”

Tesco said the help to retailers had been a "game-changer" and hugely important at the time, however its business had proven "resilient" and it had now decided to return the money in full, it added.

"We will work with the UK government and devolved administrations on the best means of doing that," it said.

The call follows research published by Harpers earlier this week, which estimated that more than 50,000 of England’s licensed premises would be unable to trade under the government’s tough new tiered restrictions coming into place today. 

Following prime minister Boris Johnson's confirmation yesterday that the government will give a one-off payment of £1,000 to pubs that do not serve food, Nicholls labelled the payment as “not even a token gesture”.