Ealing Central and Acton MP Rupa Huq has launched a parliamentary campaign to save UK hospitality businesses.
Huq, whose late father was a restauranteur, has tabled a parliamentary motion calling on the Government to extend the job retention scheme and remove the business rate and VAT relief cliff edge. The motion has received cross-party support, with signatories including former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP and Father of the House Sir Peter Bottomley MP.
The MP, who has previously spoken out against the rate of curry house closures, also urged the Government to create a Minister for Hospitality to represent the sector in a speech given in Parliament on the 12th of January.
Huq said: “Hospitality businesses drive the health of our high streets and the viability of our suburbs and towns: pre-pandemic, there were 5000 hospitality-related jobs in Ealing Central and Acton, which accounted for 6.8% of all jobs.
“But these jobs and businesses are now facing existential threat, and I fear that the Government is not doing enough to get hospitality out the other end of this crisis.
“Coronageddon should not relegate hospitality to being the easiest lever to pull: first into lockdown, last out, in this zig-zag, stop-start way. These businesses need cash flow, and they need to plan for things like fresh produce orders and staffing rotas. The Chancellor needs to take bold action now to ensure that the high streets of Ealing, Acton and Chiswick do not become permanent ghost towns.
“I urge the Chancellor to look seriously at my common sense proposals. For the future health of the hospitality economy beyond the pandemic, it is only right to keep viable businesses and jobs afloat in their hour of need.”
It is not just local pubs and restaurants that are suffering due to Covid-19 restrictions – hoteliers are also struggling for survival. An Ealing-based bed and breakfast owner recently wrote to Huq to tell her: “The Hotel Business will be dead for the next 2-3 years if we are lucky. The odd guest staying for 1 night barely covers even the [overhead] costs.
“We have possibly made around £700 since March, but we’ve had to spend thousands on refunding customers. Government help is crucial for small bed and breakfasts such as ours.”
Campaigners have commended Huq for the work she has done to highlight the plight of hospitality workers and business owners this week.
Rachel Harty, the founder of campaign group HospoDemo and Ealing resident, commented: “It is imperative that the Government looks to significantly increase grants to hospitality businesses urgently, the majority of whom are on a financial cliff-edge and cannot survive much longer without trade.
“We are grateful that Rupa Huq MP understands the severity of the situation and has tabled an Early Day Motion to facilitate discussions of this crucial issue in Parliament.”
Earlier this month, the Chancellor offered a one-off grant of up to £9,000 for qualifying retail, hospitality and leisure businesses – yet the Confederation of British Industry has indicated that current support measures do not go far enough.