The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) and UKHospitality (UKH) have called on the chancellor to extend the Job Retention Scheme to October and increase its flexibility for the hospitality sector.
In a letter to Rishi Sunak, the trade bodies have urged the chancellor to maintain the furlough salary for pub and hospitality staff at 80% until October in order to allow the sector, which it says is two months behind reopening compared to the rest of the economy, to fully get back up and running whilst the furlough scheme remains in place to save jobs.
In the same letter, the organisations have also asked the chancellor to introduce flexibility into the furlough scheme earlier than the current scheduled date of the start of August, to help fit with the sector reopening from 4 July.
The call comes as the trade bodies revealed that thousands of furloughed pub jobs could be lost, unless pubs can safely re-open and be operationally and commercially viable businesses by July, so that they can afford to pay their staff.
The trade bodies are also calling on the government to adopt the advice and guidance of the World Health Organisation from July, which suggests using one metre for social distancing as opposed to two metres.
According to all three trade associations, many venues are already looking at operating plans and preparing additional safety protocols to reassure staff and customers they can create a safe socialising environment.
Kate Nicholls, CEO, UK Hospitality said it is “absolutely crucial” that the furlough scheme is extended, in its full form, until the end of October.
She said: “Some businesses will reopen in July, but many will be trading at far below full capacity. They will be operating with reduced income and will likely incur additional costs to ensure social distancing measures are in place. Businesses will have to continue to furlough some staff members and they will need government support to do so.”
Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “We very much welcome the government’s extension to the furlough scheme, which has been a lifeline to pubs and pub jobs.
“However, unless social distancing restrictions are reduced to the WHO’s suggested one metre, two-thirds of pub jobs could be lost. It is vital that the government allows pubs to re-open under those safe conditions in July, so that they can operate at a sustainable level and become pillars of the community once more.”
She added: “Under two metre social distancing rules, pubs will have less space to operate with so will need less staff. Many pubs won’t even be able to re-open, yet they could be expected to cover part of their staff furlough costs from August without any money coming in. Such a situation would mean either pubs closing for good or jobs being lost.
“Pubs have been closed since March with no income coming in. Expecting many to contribute to furlough costs whilst they are still closed is madness. The decision for the chancellor is simple, extend the furlough scheme at 80% for our sector until October to save hundreds of thousands of jobs.”