Thursday 23 April 2020 2:55 pm

More than 1m hospitality jobs at risk without extra government support, industry warns

More than 1m hospitality jobs could be lost if coronavirus social distancing measures are extended without extra government support for the sector, the industry has warned.

UK Hospitality has written to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove to urge for more support for the country’s pubs, bars and restaurants amid concerns that social distancing measures could be in place for the rest of the year. 

Read more: Furloughed hospitality workers could lose ‘up to 40 per cent’ of wages

The industry has called for an extension of the furlough scheme beyond the end of June, legislative intervention on rent payments and improved access to capital. 

It has also asked for the government to pledge a financial package to help stimulate demand when the crisis is over, an “overhaul of business regulation, and to guarantee a “functioning and responsive” insurance market. 

In the letter, UK Hospitality said that without a phased approach to reopenings, businesses could fail and 1m jobs could be lost. 

Meanwhile, Jonathan Downey, the co-founder of Street Feast owner London Union, has written to chancellor Rishi Sunak, urging him to grant a nine-month rent payment pause for business tenants. 

The rent holiday could be balanced out with a nine-month lease extension, he said. Downey estimates than around 2m jobs will be lost and half of hospitality businesses could fail within the next few months.

“With social distancing measures still in place, reopening the hospitality sector without a plan would be catastrophic,” UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said.

“The hospitality sector was one of the first hit by the crisis and the hardest hit in terms of lost revenue. It will also be one of the last to fully emerge from the lockdown.

Read more: Coronavirus hits hospitality: London without the pubs, bars and restaurants would be so much poorer

“An extended period of social distancing will mean that many hospitality businesses will not be able to operate fully, and many will not be able to open at all. 

“Hospitality is a sector built around socialising, so there must be government support for businesses that continue to be hit by this crisis.”