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Hospitality Sector: Covid-19

Volume 677: debated on Tuesday 16 June 2020

What recent discussions he has had with representatives from the hospitality sector on the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on that sector. (903267)

What recent discussions he has had with representatives from the hospitality sector on the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on that sector. (903278)

What recent discussions he has had with representatives from the hospitality sector on the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on that sector. (903296)

I have met regularly with a large number of representatives of hospitality organisations to discuss the issues that they are experiencing, including through the BEIS ministerial taskforce on pubs and restaurants and my own weekly call with sector representatives, the next of which is this afternoon.

I, too, record that my thoughts are with Jo Cox’s family today.

The hospitality sector has faced an unprecedented challenge due to coronavirus, which has had an impact on many businesses in my constituency of Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough. At the start of the outbreak, the Prime Minister said that he would do whatever it takes to support individuals and businesses. Will the Government therefore extend the full furlough scheme to ensure that the hospitality sector survives and workers in the industry do not add to the shocking unemployment figures released today, and, ultimately, to protect our communities from a further spike of this terrible virus?

Indeed, Sheffield City Council has paid £87 million to 7,329 business premises. We have provided an unprecedented package of financial support to businesses in the hospitality sector. We continue to work with them. We continue to extend the furlough system and make it flexible, in order to have part-time furloughing, so that people can start to come back to work. It is important, however, that we get the guidance out so that we can work with the hospitality sector to get it reopened, so that it can start to bounce back.

Rumours are swirling about whether, how and which pubs will be able to reopen on 4 July. The brewing industry urgently needs clarity on whether it will be all pubs or just those with gardens. The Minister has just said that the guidance will be available as soon as possible, but that is not good enough. We are two and a bit weeks away. Beer needs to be brewed. Some of us need a pint. When will that guidance be available? The brewing industry and pubs need that clarity urgently.

It is not only that we need a pint. For pubs, it is about not just coming back for the opening, but making sure that it is an enjoyable experience for people, so they keep on coming back. That is what will allow them to survive and thrive, so it is important that we get the guidance out. I am trying to work with the hospitality sector and pubs to make sure that there are as few surprises as possible, but we need to make sure that we are weighing that up with the scientific guidance so that pub people, clients and people who want a pint know that they can go into a pub safely.

I send my condolences to the family of Jo Cox.

Workers in the hospitality industry are heading for a crisis. It has been one of the sectors worst hit by the virus, with a disproportionate number of young, low-paid and insecure workers. My constituency of Liverpool, Riverside has an estimated 11,700 employees furloughed who are employed by small family-run businesses, many of which do not qualify for grant support because they are outside the £51,000 rateable value. Will the Secretary of State fix the loans, extend the grants and plan for recovery to ensure that there is support for the hospitality sector?

It is time for me to add my voice to those of Members across the House expressing their condolences to the loved ones of Jo Cox and, indeed, wishing a swift recovery to the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Amy Callaghan). That was horrific news, and I hope that she is back on her feet as soon as possible.

Liverpool City Council, which I have spoken to, has handed out £87,885,000 to businesses, including small businesses and those in the retail and hospitality sector. That is why I was pleased to be able to extend the discretionary scheme to capture more of the businesses that fell short. I know that Liverpool City Council has an economic recovery plan, in addition to “Liverpool Without Walls”, to encourage pubs and restaurants to open safely. That will help young people especially to get back into employment and get our economy up and running.