UK Hospitality welcomes furlough extension

Trade body UK Hospitality has welcomed the extension of the cut-off date for the UK government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme along with additional support for businesses in Scotland.

The UK government has extended the eligibility cut-off date for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to 19 March 2020. The scheme, announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak last month, means employers can claim a grant to over 80% of the wages for furloughed employees up to £2,500 (US$3,116) per month.

Initially, to qualify for the support, workers had to be employed on 28 February 2020. However, following a review of the scheme, this date has been extended to 19 March 2020.

Kate Nicholls, UK Hospitality chief executive, said: “This is great news for the sector and a welcome sign that the government has listened to our concerns and those of the workforce.

“This will provide some very valuable peace of mind for employees who had missed the previous deadline, and it will give businesses some breathing room knowing that they will be in a stronger position once they are in a position to reopen.”

Help in Scotland

Furthermore, hospitality, retail and leisure businesses in Scotland with more than one site and a rateable value between £18,000 (US$22,440) and up to £51,000 (US$63,583) can now access grants of £25,000 (US$31,168).

UK Hospitality is seeking clarification on the number of details of the new arrangement, which restricts grants for second and subsequent properties restricted to 75% (£18,750/ US$23,376) compared to the full amount, which is available to companies in England.

Willie Macleod, UK Hospitality executive director, said: “The importance of these grants to the survival of many businesses cannot be overstated. Especially as there is no indication of when businesses can begin the transition towards recovery and normal trading.

“These grants are necessary to provide businesses with cash flow to meet overheads and fixed costs which need be paid for each property despite businesses being closed. Not least of these is payroll for furloughed staff pending reimbursement through the government Job Retention Scheme.

“However, businesses with rateable values in excess of £51,000 are excluded from access to grant support. These are not large businesses and their continued ability to operate at the heart of every community, employ significant numbers of people and contribute to government revenues, will be an important factor in economic recovery.

“UK Hospitality has made a case to Treasury for the £51,000 rateable value ceiling to be lifted and urges the Scottish government to consider the same request.”

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Author: Melita Kiely {authorlink}