Kwarteng must pull businesses out of limbo before MPs head off to party conferences
BUSINESS owners across the UK remain in limbo this week. While fractionally smaller inflation rates give us some hope for the months going forward, the pressure on business remains unrelenting and we’ve seen desperate pleas for support from most industries.
In particular the hospitality sector, which I represent, is near oblivion, and we estimate seven out of 10 pubs could close this winter if no support is given over the surging energy price increases.
It’s easy to see why. Data analysed by the Morning Advertiser has found two thirds of pubs have seen their bills more than double this year, while almost one in ten have seen them rise by more than 500 per cent. In Greater Manchester, I hear daily from landlords who have received estimated charges for 2023 running into the hundreds of thousands of pounds.
With these closures come significant job losses. Our own predictions show over half a million people could lose their jobs this winter if Britain’s pubs fail and over a quarter of million of those would be aged under 25.
And that’s just the pubs. Add in the restaurants, takeaways, nightclubs, social bars, hotels, suppliers and others who are also struggling in the industry and we are looking at an unimaginable number of job losses.
These figures speak for themselves and emphasise just how significant the sector is to the economic fabric of the UK. Despite last week’s announcement by the new prime minister, which focused mainly on consumer energy, landlords and business owners across the UK are still none the wiser as to how to move forward.
A fiscal announcement laying out plans for business is urgent. But just this week, there were reports suggesting the energy support package for businesses could be delayed until November. In the meantime, parliament is set for another recess.
Yes, the Parliamentary system allows for the party conferences each year. Rightly so – they map out future plans and update members across the country, but surely with an economic crisis in full flow, the timing isn’t right at the moment for our leaders to vacate Westminster once again.
In fact, I can probably count on one hand just how often MPs have been in parliament in these past three months. This makes a mockery of our parliamentary system in such a time of need, and from an amateur psychological perspective, makes us – the day-to-day workers of this country, feel unvalued.
We can’t be lulled into a false sense of security here, and although we’re hearing positive signs that a fiscal statement will be announced next week, what use will this be if the measures aren’t implemented until MPs return from their country-wide travels.
We need an immediate reduction in VAT, energy price rebates and, if we want to maintain a healthy economy, we need to be realistic about Brexit and relax visa regulations to encourage workers back into the country and back into the sector.
We are now in a catastrophic position, bigger than that which we experienced during the pandemic.
Hospitality is the fourth biggest employer in the UK and is a livelihood for hundreds of thousands of families across the UK. Without support, these livelihoods will be stripped away, plunging hard working people into unaffordable circumstances right in the middle of this cost-of-living crisis.
Put simply, we cannot afford to wait any longer.