Hospitality workers plan protest to halt closures

Hospo Demo is staging its third protest on 14 November to call on the UK government to provide support to prevent ‘catastrophic closures’ within the sector.

The protest will take place on Monday 14 November at 10.30am GMT, at Parliament Square in London.

Campaigners from the sector are planning to come together to urge the government to make policy changes, in order to halt ‘catastrophic closures’, demand a VAT reduction to 10% on food and drink sales, including alcohol, reinstate the business rates holiday, and introduce a visa scheme to allow overseas workers to work in the sector again.

It is the third Hospo Demo protest in two years, and looks to include representatives from restaurants, bars, pubs, hotels and cafés.

Chef Tom Kerridge said: “The situation hospitality businesses are facing now is nothing short of a nightmare.

“I fully support Hospo Demo in its efforts to make the government accountable by urging them to make policy changes such as a 10% VAT reduction, a business rates holiday and an overseas worker visa system. The question is, how many more hospitality businesses need to fail before the government takes action and gives our sector proper support?”

Protestors are encouraged to bring pots, pans, cocktail shakers and last orders bells to make themselves heard.

At 11am GMT, the protestors will face the Houses of Parliament to make as much noise as possible, before heading to the HM Treasury to do the same.

With operators still ‘reeling’ from the loss of business across three lockdowns during the pandemic, the turnout is anticipated to be ‘large’.

Previous demonstrations have attracted prominent figures in the drinks industry including Monica Berg, Alex Kratena, Alessandro Palazzi, and Jan Konetzki.

A flash pool taken by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) of 378 business between 16-18 September 2022 revealed that 47.7% of businesses are ‘barely breaking even, with 24.8% losing money.

Also, 23% of businesses surveyed would not ‘last more than a few months’, under current ‘operating cost levels’.

Michael Kill, CEO of NTIA, said: “The hospitality and night-time economy sectors have suffered immeasurable damage over the last four years, with the current crisis putting three out of four businesses now at risk of closure in the coming weeks and months, with hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk, wasting billions in public funding which supported them during the lockdowns.

“The fiscal intervention announced by the government did nothing to stem the current crisis, clearly ignoring industry demands of VAT and business rates relief.

“This has resulted in anger and frustration across the sector reaching boiling point, leaving an entire industry feeling that it is being wilfully neglected to the point of collapse, with no alternative but to take direct action.”

Hospo Demo reports that the hospitality sector generates £130 billion (US$152bn) in economic activity and £39bn (US$45.8bn) of tax for the Exchequer.

It also represents 10% of UK employment, according to the organisation.

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Author: Alice Brooker