Calls are mounting for the chancellor to support hospitality in his Budget next week, including a campaign backed by Chantelle Nicholson and Jason Atherton, as it is revealed one in five businesses do not have enough cash to survive the rest of February, let alone until May when businesses could reopen.
HospoDemo, the group that organised Westminster protests against industry restrictions last year, is encouraging operators to join the #SaveHospitalityRishi campaign, which has been backed by the chef-restaurateurs, urging Rishi Sunak to extend the VAT cut, furlough scheme, business rates holiday, rent moratorium, and to run a second Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
Operators are encouraged to post their own video on social media with the hashtag to explain what the chancellor needs to include in the Budget to ensure the survival of their business.
And more than 200 industry leaders and trade bodies representing the UK's hospitality and pub sectors have also signed a letter to Sunak warning that unless a substantial package of support is announced, more businesses will fail before they have a chance to reopen.
UKHospitality, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) – as well as representatives from leading businesses owning pubs, restaurants, hotels and leisure venues – have said that nearly two-thirds of companies do not have enough cash to survive until the end of May.
The letter also called on the chancellor to extend the VAT cut as well as expand it to include other products and services across hospitality, extend the business rates holiday and furlough scheme with no National Insurance Contributions for closed businesses, cut beer duty and for no repayment of HMRC debts before 1 July. It also called for enhanced grants for hospitality businesses until 21 June with State Aid rules disapplied and an extension of the rent moratoria.
In a joint statement, the trade bodies said: "There is a genuine fear amongst many in our sector that businesses are going to fail and jobs will be lost at the eleventh hour… The sector will not be back to viable trading until restrictions are removed in June so emergency support needs to reflect this.
"After a year of misery, the end is now finally in sight. The government cannot allow business to fail now, when the reopening of our sector is within touching distance. Members of the public are desperately looking forward to socialising with their friends and family, for the first time in over a year in many cases. If the government does not act, they may not be able to."
It has been reported that 68 Conservative MPs have also called for a cut in beer duty, which is being considered by the chancellor, and there have also been calls from the wine sector for a duty cut with accusations that to cut beer and not wine would unfairly impact women.
Meanwhile, a petition has been set up to #GiveHospitalityABreak, which is also calling for an extension of the rent moratorium for another three months and legislation to allow tenants to repay only half of the rent owed over the next two years.