Hospitality chiefs plea for fresh government support package after revenue slump

·2-min read

Hospitality chiefs have urged the chancellor to prepare a new financial support package for the industry even as remaining restrictions on their operations are lifted in the coming weeks.

Sky News has seen a letter sent this weekend sent by Kate Nicholls, the UK Hospitality chief executive, to Rishi Sunak in which she calls on the government to provide low-interest loans to help commercial landlords and their tenants resolve outstanding rent arrears.

Ms Nicholls' letter - the latest in a flurry of pleas to ministers since the coronavirus crisis triggered the gravest crisis in the industry's history - also warned that her body's members were in many cases struggling to access the extent of emergency loan schemes intended to help companies through the crisis.

"Government loan schemes have been received positively but there are real concerns about their rollout - there seems to be a disconnect between your statements and the interpretation and application by banks," she told Mr Sunak.

"Many of our members report that they are being denied access to the full loan schemes by their banks. In particular, very few are able to extend their [Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans] to the full ten years that is available to them [while] others are concerned about the lack of availability for the Recovery Loan Scheme.

"We believe the loan schemes are very helpful in practice, but Government must instruct banks to ensure that loans are getting to hospitality businesses."

Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality sector companies have been left with acute concerns about tackling outstanding rent liabilities that landlords have refused to alleviate, leading to an impasse between the two sides.

Ms Nicholls has suggested extending a moratorium on evictions until the end of the year, with an adjudication process set up to help resolve disputes.

"Without further action, we risk structural instability that threatens to waste the substantial investment made to date by government and industry," she told Mr Sunak.

"Investing now in the revitalisation of hospitality will yield a substantial return on investment - in terms of economic growth, employment, levelling up, high street regeneration and Government revenues."

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