Chancellor Rishi Sunak has outlined a series of initiatives to help the hospitality and leisure industry recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The main measures were announced as part of this year’s Budget on 3 March, with further help unveiled on 10 March.
The VAT cut of 5% for hospitality, tourism and leisure, down from the usual 20% rate and first introduced last July, has been extended for a further six months, until 30 September 2021. This will be followed by an interim rate of 12.5% until 31 March 2022, when it will then revert to the standard rate of 20%.
The Chancellor also announced an extension to the business rates holiday, until June 2021. After this, those companies that have been closed for business will be able to claim a two- thirds cut in rates, up to £2 million, with a lower threshold for those businesses that have been able to remain open.
Hospitality and leisure businesses can also apply for a ‘restart’ grant of up to £18,000, and the Government has also introduced a ‘Recovery Loan Scheme’, whereby businesses of any size can apply for loans from £25,000 up to £10 million through to the end of this year. The Government will guarantee these up to 80 per cent.
The furlough scheme has also been extended until September. Employees will continue to receive 80% of their hours that are not worked; businesses must contribute 10% of the cost towards this in July, rising to 20% in August and September.
On 10 March, the Government also announced an extension to the ban on commercial evictions for a further three months, until 30 June, providing some relief for those businesses that face mounting rent debt following lockdown. A ‘call for evidence’ has also been launched by the Government, to monitor discussions between landlords and tenants and to assess what steps should be taken beyond 30 June.
In response to the Budget, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The Chancellor has announced support to help our sector get back up and running, now it is vital that the Government sticks to its date of June 21st for a full reopening of the sector. Delay would see more businesses fail, more jobs lost and undo much of the good work the Chancellor has done to date.”