The hospital sector must be provided with an “extended and flexible” furlough scheme in order to survive the pandemic, UKHospitality has warned.
The trade body has now written to the Chancellor asking for continued support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to “ensure that businesses survive, and jobs are saved”
This includes the continuation of an 80% furlough pay until the end of September, with a tapered scheme until the end of the year, as well as a removal of the three-week maximum period to increase flexibility among reopening businesses.
The body has also called for sector-specific part-furlough schemes with pay shared between the Government and employers.
In its letter, UKHospitality has also called attention to the current low levels of confidence among the sector, with trading expectations 88% lower than last year if businesses reopen in July.
The group warned that trade will still be “markedly lower” even in December, and has therefore reiterated its call for an extension of the scheme and an increase in flexibility for businesses.
Their call to the government has been closely followed by reports that the Chancellor is expected to extend the furlough scheme to September, but reduce the amount people can claim to 60% of their earnings.
According to Sky News, the move aims to prevent some 1.2 million redundancies, and comes after Sunak promised there would not be a “cliff-edge” end to the Government’s furlough scheme.
UKHospitality CEO, Kate Nicholls, said: “The introduction of the furlough scheme has been a crucial lifeline for many businesses and employees. It has helped hospitality overcome the initial crisis, saved businesses and kept jobs open.
“As the Government, and businesses, begin to think about reopening, it is vital that furlough support continues. Abruptly turning it off would be a disaster and undo the good work that the Government has already done.”
She added: “When lockdown lifts, a substantial number of hospitality businesses will be unable to reopen again and many of those that can will still be operating far under normal capacity.
“Confidence among businesses for the rest of the year with even best-case scenario predictions pointing to a huge drop in trading. Without continued support through the furlough scheme businesses will fail and people will lose their jobs.”