The recent increase in Covid infections has affected all of us. However, the hospitality sector has been one of the worst hit. They were relying on this period to recover their losses from the previous two years. But, they are currently facing cancellation in bookings, shortage of staff and a general lack of clarity of what the next week may bring for their source of livelihood.
In order to represent their concerns, as well as understand what should the government be doing to help this badly affected sector, I surveyed over 35 pubs, clubs, music venues, restaurants, hotels and industry associations in Bristol. I also met some of these people on 22 December, a day after the Chancellor’s relief announcement.
I have shared the questions raised by the respondents and meeting attendees, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
This government has barely taken the first step towards supporting those whose livelihoods have been affected due to Omicron. The measures announced by the Chancellor on 22 December ignores millions. Those it does offer help, it is nowhere close to what they need.
I will continue to work for these businesses so that they can once again thrive in 2022. They are a large part of what makes Bristol great.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak
The Correspondence and Enquiry Unit
1 Horse Guards Road
22 December 2021
Re: Urgent clarifications needed by the hospitality sector in Bristol West
Your announcement yesterday came as a relief to many in the hospitality sector. I too welcome your decision to inject much needed cash into the struggling sector. However, these measures can only be a starting point. Pubs, music venues, restaurants, hotels and the many businesses that support them, are counting on you to provide additional clarity and support.
I met with many of these businesses today, and I would like to represent their key asks:
- The grant of up to £6,000 will mostly benefit larger premises. Most local bars and venues will receive only a tiny fraction, which will go nowhere in covering costs. Will you consider increasing the grant amount and assure businesses that the scheme will last into 2022?
- The industry needs support today. How will you ensure a quick rollout of your plan, that puts money into the hands of business owners when they are in most need of it?
- There is an urgent need for clarity on restrictions for New Year’s Eve. Businesses will be incurring large cash expenses this week to stock up. If there are any additional restrictions, they will lose that money. Can you ensure the government announces the plan for the period between Christmas and New Years immediately, ideally with a supporting financial statement?
- There was no mention in your announcement for those that support the hospitality sector. The industry requires taxi drivers, cleaning services, music promoters, and many others to function smoothly. Their livelihoods have also been affected. How does the government plan to support them?
While the measures announced on 21 December 2021 are welcome, it is a matter of too little for too few. During a recent survey I took of businesses and industry associations in Bristol West, I learnt the situation is dire for many. 100% of respondents have seen business decline this year compared to normal Christmas, and 94% have seen their costs go up.
How do you plan to release critical information and additional financial support, so that the bells on Christmas Day, do not become death knells for an industry that provides employment and joy to millions of British people?
As many of Bristol’s hospitality businesses have asked me to make these representations to you, please be aware that I will be sharing your response, as well as this letter, on my website.
Thangam Debbonaire, MP for Bristol West