Lancashire small business group calls for government strategy to aid the hospitality sector
The hospitality and tourism industry that powers the Fylde coast needs new long term help, the Blackpool-based Federation of Small Businesses has warned.
The UK’s biggest business group calling for a new strategy to help bolster ailing hospitality and tourism sector hit hard by pandemic lockdowns and now being forced to wait four more weeks to fully reopen.
Research by FSB highlights the devastating impact of the pandemic on the UK’s tourism and hospitality sector and its supply chain along with the new announcement which will see some businesses closed and without income for 15 months, and thousands of others still not operating to full capacity.
The new report, A Menu for Recovery, calls on Government to develop a new hospitality and tourism strategy, overseen by a minister, to focus on the underrepresented small businesses in the sector and help lay out future support plans.
It also asks the government to help small firms in the sector employ and retain skilled staff, which many businesses are struggling to do against a backdrop of Brexit and the pandemic.
The business group has also called for urgent action to extend the hospitality VAT rate reduction to 5 per cent until March 2022, and 100 per cent business rates relief throughout the full financial year for businesses in England. More than half (56 per cent) of small hospitality businesses say further rates relief would support their high street.
It also wants to make the process easier for businesses that sell food and drink to apply to their local authority for a pavement licence, and maintain the right for pubs, cafes and restaurants to operate as a takeaway.
The report said levels of debt amongst businesses is rocketing, with three quarters (77 per cent) of small firms in the sector taking on debt post-Covid. Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: “With mass closures and restricted openings over the last 15 months, COVID-19 lockdowns have shown just how important our pubs, restaurants, hotels and thousands of businesses in the supply chain are to both the economy and communities.
“The ever-rising cost of doing business was already weighing heavy on these firms and the pandemic has only exacerbated it. This week’s decision to postpone relaxation will have dashed the hopes of thousands of small businesses that have been unable to operate at full capacity since the pandemic started. With a crucial summer season ahead, we need to make sure the beleaguered sector gets urgent help to ensure its survival.
“Our new report sets out some of the ways that government at all levels can help futureproof our brilliant hospitality and tourism businesses in the long term. Despite being a vital economic sector, tourism and hospitality businesses do not get the attention they deserve.”
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