Removal of Job Retention Bonus ‘leaves £2.1bn black hole’ in sector finances –

Ahead of the Chancellor’s Spending Review on Wednesday (25 November), the trade body says hospitality is set to lose the majority of its ‘golden quarter’ with Christmas sales severely depressed, as it then heads into the worst quarter for sales, from January through March.

It adds that the removal of the Job Retention Bonus (JRB) has materially damaged businesses’ ability to survive and will create a £2.1bn black hole in the sector’s finances in February.

The JRB, which would have entitled firms to a £1,000 payment for each furloughed staff retained until the end of January, was scrapped by Sunak earlier this month after he announced that the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) would be extended​ until the end of March 2021.

UKHospitality’s letter follows the release of a new survey of hospitality businesses showing that, by February 2021 and without further Government support, around 600,000 jobs will be lost against employment figures from the same month this year.

The letter calls on the Government to announce a successor scheme to JRB as soon as possible, with an early drawdown facility; extend the business rates holiday for a further year from April; continue the VAT cut for hospitality and tourism for the duration of 2021; broker a workable solution on the huge rent debt hanging over the sector, supported by a moratorium extension; and maintain the VAT Retail Export Scheme.

UKHospitality argues that this package of additional financial support will put the sector in a position to rebuild next year and continue its position as a major contributor to economic and social wellbeing across all regions of the UK.