UKHospitality, new hospitality trade body merger between the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the British Hospitality Association (BHA), has warned the government that it must act to lower costs for businesses or risk further joblessness and loss of vital hospitality businesses.
The warning follows data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) which showed that the number of unemployed people had risen by 24,000 1.45 million. Last month, sector-specific figures showed a decrease of almost 54,000 employed in the last quarter of 2017.
UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Today’s figures do not make for reassuring reading for the government or our industry. Although the total number of unemployed remains relatively low, an increase in the rate of unemployment points to employer uncertainty and continually increasing barriers to investment.
“Last month’s figures show that the hospitality sector has been hit particularly hard. Businesses that have driven the revitalisation of high streets since the recession are now, once again, feeling the squeeze.”
She continued: “We have repeatedly told the government that the sector is facing a substantial barrier to further growth, mainly in the enormously disproportionate business rates bill that continues to cripple businesses. This will only be exacerbated when the increase hits in April; in all likelihood, leading to further unemployment as businesses struggle to swallow these cost burdens.
“If the government does not act to support businesses by cutting costs, then we are only going to see a continued deceleration of growth in the sector and a further increase in the rate of unemployment.”