Many independent Hospitality, Nightlife and Retail businesses are struggling right now, with many of us worrying if we will get through the first few months of 2021. A small group of us have therefore clubbed to together to pen an open letter (see text below) to the government in order to start a conversation to ensure our voices are heard. We appreciate that this letter isn’t comprehensive, that there is more that we could be saying, but we wanted this to simply be a starting point to get a dialogue going and ensure our voices are heard. We are currently talking to national journalists to get this printed in the press and already have hundreds of signatories in addition to the three of us who started the letter.
Details on how to sign the letter is on the right hand side/bottom of this page. Please spread the word and get as many people to support as possible!
HOSPITALITY, NIGHTLIFE AND RETAIL RECOVERY
Open letter to the Chancellor or the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Business
We the undersigned note that:
1. Some 5 million people work in the hospitality and retail sectors across the UK.
2. Hospitality and retail businesses in our towns and cities are at risk of terminal decline.
3. Income from sales in November and December usually carries businesses through the quiet months from January to March, with most of this income now lost due to forced closure or restrictions limiting capacity and trading.
4. The difficult medium term economic outlook - the most difficult economic outlook since WW2 - will mean consumers will themselves be struggling, leading to reduced demand for our goods and services.
5. Consumer habits have changed. Demand from office based workers will be reduced permanently due to long term structural changes in home/office working patterns and the closure or downsizing of many city centre offices.
6. Even with the unprecedented support offered by the UK Government this year, including the business support grants of up to £3,000 per business, many previously healthy, profitable and viable businesses are losing money week on week due to fixed overheads. Most have accumulated rent arrears running into many thousands of pounds.
7. Businesses now have little, if any, financial reserves in the bank to weather the economic storm going forward. More than a third of hospitality firms say they have little or no confidence of surviving the next three months, according to data collected by the Office for National Statistics
8. Looking to the long term, businesses will struggle to afford loan and rent repayments from debts accumulated over the last 8 months.
9. Uncertainty on what restrictions we could face in the future - and when current restrictions will end - impedes business confidence and planning.
We the undersigned therefore ask that:
1. Crucially, Government gives businesses as much time as possible to plan for any coronavirus related changes, restrictions or regulations that will affect our trading.
2. Government set out the criteria that will trigger any future restrictions which affect our businesses, as well as the specific criteria that will trigger a reduction in restrictions. This is one of the most critical things Government can do to support us and boost business confidence.
3. Government acknowledge businesses in our town and city centres face sizeable financial challenges in the short and medium term and create a further comprehensive financial support package, including extending the business rates discount for 2021/22 for those worst affected.
4. Government commit to work on a cross party basis and with industry to formulate a strategy to support our longer term recovery and sustainability - supporting all towns and cities centres and not just a select few.
We would note our thanks for the Government’s support to date. We hope very much that we can work together to help to ensure that our economy and society can get through these unprecedented times.
James Greenhalgh, Flamingos Coffee House (Leeds)
Nicky Chance Thompson, The Piece Hall (Halifax)
Hugh Goulbourne, Huddersfield Unlimited
To sign the letter, please email email@example.com with your name, position in the business, business name & location or click on the below action button. Note - in some internet browsers the action button won’t work so you may have to manually email using the above email addres.