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Nicholls: 'ONS employment stats reinforce urgent need for targeted support’

Published:  10 November, 2020

UK Hospitality (UKH) has reiterated the need for additional support for the hospitality industry as ONS stats released today revealed that the UK unemployment rate has reached a four-year high. 

The ONS figures highlighted the scale of the crisis currently being faced by hospitality businesses and emphasised the need for additional support, said CEO Kate Nicholls. 

“The figures underline the dreadful hit that hospitality has taken during this crisis and reinforces the urgent need for targeted support. Our sector has seen the highest fall in jobs of any.

“We are entering another period that is likely to be incredibly difficult for us. Businesses are in lockdown once again and when they do reopen, it will be back into a severely restrictive environment,” she said.

While the extension of the furlough scheme would provide “some protection”, scrapping the Job Retention Bonus Scheme was a “major blow at a time when things could not be tighter – dramatically impacting on cashflow and potentially making businesses technically insolvent”, she added.

“Furlough will still mean that employers must pick up the cost of National Insurance Contributions (NICs), while receiving no revenue. The majority of businesses are operating at a loss, with little to no financial reserves and the prospect of a bleak winter ahead.”

Moreover, Nicholls reiterated how government support should recognise that hospitality was being asked to operate under “the toughest restrictions of any sector”. 

“We have been given the highest mountain to climb in order to survive – we need a new approach from 3 December,” she said.

As Covid continued to hit the jobs market, the ONS data showed the UK's unemployment rate rose to 4.8% in the three months to September, up from 4.5% in the three months to August. 

Meanwhile, redundancies rose to a record high of 314,000 in the same period, according to the ONS.

Last month, before the announcement of the second lockdown, research estimated hospitality faced 750,000 job losses without urgent government support.