Expert Insight

NEWS from

There is some small joy to be found amongst the barrage of negative news. The Scottish Government has committed to a package of financial support that will be a vital lifeline for businesses. In Wales, the Senedd has announced that restrictions on businesses will be reviewed regularly and with consultation with the hospitality sector.

In England, Westminster has allowed businesses to sell pre- booked takeaway alcohol during the lockdown. This was a valuable lifeline to many businesses in the first lockdown and helped businesses, particularly pubs, retain a link with their communities. Allowing takeaway sales means that vulnerable and lonely customers, often with no other means of human interaction, have a priceless outlet. This was vital during the first lockdown and was done safely and securely. Banning takeaway

Kate Nicholls UKHospitality Chief Executive

The final weeks of the year tend to be a time of celebration and a boom period for hospitality. In the run up to Christmas, friends and family come together to celebrate, colleagues find more spurious reasons to knock-off early and head to the pub, and parties are thrown throughout the month and well into the new year. This year, England is back in Lockdown for at least a month, with Scotland and Wales open, but only barely. It will be a dire end to a dismal year for our businesses.

sales would have removed this much-needed benefit, impacting people who need it the most. It also avoids the prospect of businesses literally pouring thousands of pints’ worth of beer and cider straight down the drain in what would have been a gross act of wastage, with an environmental impact to boot.

These have been welcome pieces of good news, although I appreciate will come as scant consolation for those businesses still in limbo. Nightclubs are still shuttered and the events industry as we know it is completely on hold.

When we do eventually emerge from Lockdown in England, it is likely to be back into very tight restrictions once again. Over 90% of hospitality businesses are operating at a loss. Debt has been building up over the course of the year and many businesses will have

burned through their reserves and now be facing tough challenges to get back to an even keel. We still need a solution to the issue of rent debt which hovers over too many businesses that have been trading at unsustainable levels for most of the year and with little hope for the coming months.

As 2020, certainly the worst year most of us have experienced, struggles to pull itself over the line, we are in need of a miracle. Next year looks likely to bring all the same COVID-related problems, plus the possibility of a no-deal Brexit once the transition period ends, and all the related issues that will bring. At this moment, it feels too exhausting to even contemplate.

Perhaps the new year can bring a slice of unexpected but much-needed good luck. We are definitely due some.


November 2020

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