Labour is calling for a new rescue package for hospitality and high streets to prevent firms from going under as part of a plan protect more than one million jobs.
Latest government figures show that there is a £1.7 billion gap between what the Government has allocated to local authorities in retail, hospitality and leisure grants, and the amount of cash that has been distributed to businesses.
This money should be reallocated as a targeted Hospitality and High Streets Rescue Fund to protect jobs and help struggling firms fight back from the crisis, Labour says.
Many smaller businesses such as beauty salons, nail bars and gyms remain closed, while pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants are unable to trade fully because of social distancing guidelines.
Ministers should give councils more flexibility to tailor support for their local economies and better focus funds on struggling businesses – including bed and breakfasts, hotels and cafes in coastal communities; and conference centres and music venues in towns and cities.
Labour has already warned that up to one million jobs could be at risk and UKHospitality said last week that a further 320,000 hospitality workers could be made redundant.
As well as calling for a rescue fund, Labour wants the Government to end the ‘one size fits all’ approach to unwinding furlough, with sectors that remain fully or partially shut down being exempt from employer contributions at least until they are trading well again.
Despite the Chancellor’s pledge to do “whatever it takes” to help businesses through the crisis, many firms in the sector and supply chains are falling through the cracks for support because they have a rateable value above £51,000. In Manchester, that is 1300 businesses that are not eligible for support.
Labour’s Shadow Minister for Business and Consumers and Manchester Central MP , Lucy Powell MP, said:
“Hospitality and high streets have been battered by this crisis, with many businesses struggling to survive. We need a Back to Work Budget with a laser-like focus on jobs, jobs, jobs.
“Part of that must be a new Hospitality and High Streets Rescue Fund to give local councils the flexibility to help businesses in their area still in distress.
“The money is allocated, it just needs to reach the right places, so it must now be refocused on those most in need to save our high streets and protect jobs.”