Oldham MP: Government must do ‘whatever it takes’ to aid hospitality sector
Date published: 20 January 2021
Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams
Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams has said the Government must keep its promise to do ‘whatever it takes’ to help the hospitality sector through the pandemic.
Ms Abrahams said: “I am extremely concerned about the impact the lockdown and, prior to that tier restrictions, are having on our local businesses and workers.
"In Oldham and Greater Manchester we have seen restrictions for much longer than most other parts of the country which I know has had a profound impact on the hospitality sector, and I’ve received many e-mails over the last few days highlighting the difficulties the sector is currently facing.
“I have repeatedly pushed government ministers for comprehensive support as well as a recognition of the need for timely decisions rather than the constant stop/start and mixed messages and to ensure that the necessary public health measures must be matched by proper economic support for business and workers.
“Many firms have taken on large amounts of debt to get themselves through the first phase of the crisis and have now experienced over nine months of incredibly difficult trading conditions, with restrictions set to continue well into 2021.”
With businesses in England facing further restrictions due to the lockdown, many are still struggling.
The business grants are less generous than they were in March, and many businesses are not be able access the cash as they are not legally required to close.
The Government announced one-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses which are intended to support businesses through to the Spring.
Ms Abrahams added: “Depending on how long restrictions last it is likely that the level of grant support being offered is lower on a per-week basis than the first national lockdown.
"According to UK Hospitality, the news that it could be early May for the sector to reopen, could mean that one in five will run out of cash well before May 2021.”
"We have called for the £2bn recently returned to the Treasury by supermarkets in unneeded business rates relief to be urgently redeployed into a Hospitality and High Streets Fightback Fund to help struggling businesses on the high street and those excluded from support.
“Businesses have done the right thing, adapting their premises and then closing them, to keep people safe, but the Government is not doing the right thing by them.
“We need our hospitality businesses on the other side of the crisis but the support is hopelessly inadequate."
Meanwhile, Sacha Lord, the Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester, has called on the Chancellor to 'double down and remember the UK's lost sectors' ahead of the upcoming Budget on March 3.
He said: "When the hospitality, arts and cultural sectors reopen, they won't return to the same financial footing as they were pre-pandemic.
"Everything may look good 'front of house', but the underlying debt burden from rent arrears, loans and VAT accrual for these businesses is substantial and for many, unmanageable.
"The support given to these industries throughout the crisis has been welcomed, but I'm now looking at the Chancellor to double down on efforts and recognise the importance of these lost sectors on the UK economy.
"The Government must extend the existing range of measures to provide assurance and give confidence to those working within them."
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