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UK businesses desperate for more support

17th December 2021

UK businesses are desperately seeking greater support from the Government once again.

Small firms are struggling with rising occupancy costs, supply chain issues and staff shortages, and the hospitality sector has suffered from a huge wave of cancellations linked with the exponential increase in COVID infection rates.

Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge, who has previously been vocal about the struggles of operating within his industry, wrote an article yesterday titled ‘The government has hung hospitality out to dry – I’ve lost £65k in bookings this week’.

The chef went on to say that, in the last six days, more than 650 people have cancelled their reservations at one of his restaurants.

Reflecting the fears exacerbated by the rapidly spreading Omnicron variant, hospitality has once again become the first “luxury” dropped by the general public.

In a similar story to the Winter of 2020, a sudden surge of cases has severely impacted the appetite of customers at bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants during some of the most important trading weeks of the year.

Last year, this drop in footfall severely impacted hospitality and retail businesses across the UK, and it’s likely that many firms will be looking to the Government to provide the same, if not greater, support initiatives this time around.

Kerridge also described the impact that this drop in business has on the farms and fisheries supporting the impacted hospitality sector. Indeed, though hospitality has arguably received the greatest levels of support previously, the many sectors that feed into it have often been disregarded by the Government’s schemes and initiatives.

Nonetheless, despite the clear need for the Government to announce new reductions in VAT and business rates relief for these sectors, initial reports indicate that despite having held talks with key associations, the Chancellor will not be seeking to rolling out a new support package.

With revenue in the crucial weeks leading up to Christmas now damaged beyond repair, hospitality businesses are simply looking to recover strongly in the new year.

However, with so many small firms crippled by the build up of pandemic rent debt, it is predicted that there may be huge staff lay-offs going into 2022. Indeed, a recent survey by accountancy firm Moore UK indicated that 33% of owner-managed businesses were planning to make redundancies over the next six months now that the safety net of furlough had been removed.

Perhaps even more staggering, is that the small businesses planning to make redundancies were considering shedding an average of 45% of their staff over the next six months.

With optimism levels the lowest they have been in months, the Government must once again evaluate what can be done to save these businesses from collapse after c. 22 months of crippling pandemic pressures.

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