Robin Hutson, owner operator of The Pig Hotels and Limewood, has written to the Prime Minister warning of the ‘toxic recipe’ for hospitality businesses if government support ends in June.
The hotelier said longer-term support and careful reopening rules are required, if the ‘collapse and devastation of the rural economy’ is to be avoided following the Covid-19 crisis.
In the letter, which is backed up by a number of reputable rural hotel and restaurant businesses across the UK employing around 20,000 people, called for further support to remain in place until 2021.
Hutson started by thanking the government’s ‘prompt’ support for the sector during this period and said his company, Home Grown Hotels, has furloughed 782 staff and secured £4m of CBLIS, ‘undoubtedly preventing’ job loss.
He explained that many rural businesses live from ‘hand to mouth’ with ‘little of no cash reserves’ and stressed the ‘unique sensitivity’ of reopening these businesses post lockdown. If social distancing spacing rules were to be introduced it would push many ‘below their break-even point’, he added.
The letter detailed specific support requirements that the sector deems necessary for survival. There are as follows:
• Backdate furlough to include all employees up until March 19 2020, not just those RTI registered.
• Extend furlough and introduce a further developed, flexible, phased and part time scheme until end of Q1 2021.
• Extend Business Rates holiday until end of Q2 2021.
• Rent assistance, up to 12 month rent free period to be added to end of leases. Government to set up landlord fund.
• Reduction in VAT for hospitality businesses 2020/21.
• Further extension of time for repayment of deferred VAT/PAYE, allowing for normal trading to fund these payments.
The letter was supported by business owners such as Rich and Jill Stein, Alex, Charlie and Olga Polizzi, Andrew Stembridge from Chewton Glen, Harry Murray of Lucknam Park, Simon Berry from English Lakes Hotels, Andrew Mckenzie of The Vineyard Group, Will Ashworth of Watergate Bay and Another Place, Richard Ball from The Calcot Collection, Danny Pecorelli from Exclusive Collection and chef Michael Caines, to name a few.
To read the full letter, click here https://www.thepighotel.com/rural-hospitality-letter/