Budget 2021: Chief executives make last-minute pleas to Rishi Sunak for business support

Naomi Ackerman and Joanna Bourke
·3-min read
<p>Chancellor Rishi Sunak will deliver his Budget on March 3</p> (Getty Images)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will deliver his Budget on March 3

(Getty Images)

A number of companies that have faced severe disruption from the pandemic are hoping the Chancellor will this week outline a number of ways to help firms ride out the virus crisis and recover.

Ahead of Rishi Sunak delivering his Budget on Wednesday 3 March, bosses from various sectors have made final calls for help. Here is what some of the chief executives have to say…

Restaurants, bars and clubs

Among measures the Night Time Industries Association wants to see is late night economy sector specific support for the hardest hit businesses, in terms of grants. The organisation, led by Michael Kill, also wants the business rates holiday to be extended until the end of the year.

Kill said: “We urge the Chancellor to recognise that night time economy businesses have been amongst hardest hit by Covid, with many having been closed entirely for the duration of the pandemic. With 85% of workers in the night time economy considering leaving, this Budget really is the last chance saloon to save the livelihoods of workers and freelancers in the sector.”

Des Gunewardena, chief executive of dining group D&D London, which is behind Quaglino’s and the Bluebird cafes, has "three key asks of the Chancellor". He wants to see the extension of both business rates and VAT reliefs for a further 12 months, and the extension of the rent moratorium with specific guidance on settlement of disputes backed by legislation.

The chief executive said it would be "wholly inadequate" to only extend relief measures until the summer.

Gunewardena added: "The extent of the losses that we have incurred through Covid will take a full year to recoup with the benefit of relief extensions, and two years or more without.”

Rik Campbell, co-owner of Soho's Kricket, wants a furlough extension "until all restrictions are lifted and we know we can bring all our staff back at full capacity", and business rates relief continued.

Conor Daly, general manager of restaurant and bar Allegra at The Stratford Hotel, said that what the sector's London businesses need most from the Chancellor is clarity - and an extension of the rent moratorium to prevent "an absolute bloodbath" of closures.

Ben Wright, founder of restaurant group and wholesale seafood business, Wright Brothers, said: “Frankly, pubs, restaurants and hospitality need all the support we can get... The government needs to help restore public confidence in going out to eat, drink and socialise again.”

It is hoped pubs and restaurants can starting serving outdoors again from April 2021AFP via Getty Images
It is hoped pubs and restaurants can starting serving outdoors again from April 2021AFP via Getty Images

Travel

Gloria Guevara, chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council, said the organisation is calling on the government to prioritise the urgent resumption of international business travel.

Guevara said: “We need to capitalise on the huge success of the vaccine rollout and unblock the myriad of confusing rules and regulations which has stalled essential business travel. Now is the time to show that the UK government really means business.”

Retail

Retail trade union Usdaw’s key calls for this year’s Budget include extending the business rates holiday and extending the moratorium on shop evictions for rent arrears, and finding a wider solution around unpaid rents, with contributions from retailers, landlords and government.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said the pandemic “has pushed many retailers and retail workers to breaking point”.

On the British Independent Retailers Association’s wish list is an extension to the business rates holiday and extension of the furlough scheme.

Gyms

The co-founder of bootcamp and gym operator Barry’s UK has called for Rishi Sunak to announce a ‘Work Out To Help Out’ scheme to get Britain and the battered fitness sector back on its feet.

Last summer the hospitality sector was boosted by the Chancellor’s Eat Out to Help Out initiative, which offered consumers a 50% discount up to £10 on meals and soft drinks on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August 2020.

Barry’s UK’s Sandy Macaskill said the idea for a Government-funded ‘Work Out to Help Out’ scheme “is already receiving overwhelming support from people within the industry”.

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