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Rail strikes in 2024 have cost hospitality £750m

Published:  05 April, 2024

Industrial action across the rail network from Friday 5 April to Monday 8 April is estimated to cost the hospitality sector £387m, according to UKhospitality. 

Strikes in 2024 have cost businesses close to £750m in lost business, and after this weekend’s strikes, the total cost will surpass £1bn for the sector.

The tidal impact since the start of the dispute in 2022 is estimated to be £5bn according to the trade body.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “There is never a good time for strikes but this disruption will be particularly damaging. Families looking to enjoy the Easter holidays will now find plans disrupted and hospitality businesses trying to generate much-needed sales will see customer numbers dwindle.

“As April marks the cost of wages and business rates increasing annually by £3.4bn for hospitality, businesses were looking to a successful Easter to help cover those new costs. That now looks like an increasingly difficult prospect.

The failure to tackle costs on hospitality businesses in the Budget has meant the financial investment needed to deliver the forecasted industry growth of 6% a year is at risk. Almost two-thirds of the sector’s annual £5.4bn investment in growth could be diverted into paying the new payroll and business rates costs, according to UKH.

“Hospitality continues to suffer as collateral damage in this dispute and it’s putting at risk the many ways hospitality serves Britain – through offering great experiences, employing millions of people and putting billions of pounds into the economy.

“This dispute has gone on for far too long and we need all parties to urgently get back round the table to negotiate. A solution that brings ongoing disruption to an end will be good for workers, businesses and the economy.”

To help relieve some of the pressure on businesses UKH has suggested the government replace short-term solutions with a permanently reduced business rates multiplier for hospitality, leisure and high-street retail sectors at a rate of 30 pence in the pound.

Responding to the recent record increase in the National Minimum Wage, UKH has also requested the rate of employer National Insurance Contributions be reduced.