Welsh hospitality sector calls on Drakeford to 'end uncertainty' after Sunak sets out measures to boost industry

Closed pub
Pubs, restaurants and cafes in Wales have not yet been allowed to reopen. Credit: PA Images

Wales' hospitality sector has called on the First Minister to "end uncertainty" after the chancellor announced measures to rescue the industry following the pandemic.

Rishi Sunak announced a reduction in VAT and vouchers for people to dine out for half-price in a bid to boost spending.

The UK Government said the VAT cuts will benefit Wales most, but the those within the sector said the measures rely on businesses being able to reopen fully.

Business owners from across Wales' hospitality sector have previously warned thousands of jobs are at risk due to the pandemic.

Welsh pubs, restaurants and cafes in are set to reopen outdoor spaces only from 13 July, providing cases continue to fall. The First Minister is expected to confirm this on Friday.

VAT will be lowered from 20 per cent to 5 per cent for the next six months on food, accommodation and attractions.

People will also be able to dine out for half-price to boost spending in hospitality.

The “eat out to help out” scheme which will see the UK Government offer 50 per cent off, up to £10 per head, on meals out on certain days of the week during August.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes reopened fully on 4 July. Credit: PA Images

A survey by the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective, a group of independent businesses across Wales, found there have already been 886 job losses of the 102 businesses that responded.

The group said multiplying that number by the scale of the sector in Wales meant the total number of jobs losses was estimated to be in excess of 30,000.

It said the First Minister must now provide clarity.

"It is clearly welcome recognition from the chancellor that hospitality needs additional support - but it all relies upon us being open," a spokesperson said.

"The First Minister need to respond today to end uncertainty and provide hope to the thousands of small businesses that are waiting to hear from him."

Wales' shadow minister for Covid-19 recovery said the announcement will come as "music to the ears of the sector".

Darren Millar MS said: “The six-month cut in VAT from 20 percent to five percent for eligible hospitality and tourism businesses will be a shot in the arm for an industry which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. “We now need some urgency from the Welsh Labour-led Government to do what it can to re-open Wales and help businesses here to adapt so that we can protect as many livelihoods as possible while keeping staff and customers safe."

Shumana Palit and Paul Grimwood, who own multiple restaurants and bars across Wales, highlighted the problem of outdoor-only seating.

Shumana Palit and Paul Grimwood, who own restaurants and bars in Cardiff, Narbeth and Aberystwyth, highlighted the problem of outdoor-only seating.

"After weeks of waiting for an announcement, to have only outdoor spaces allowed to open from the middle of July is heart-breaking for us as a business, as we don't have any outdoor space. It makes no difference for us at all.”

Debs Lewis, co-founder of Dusty Knuckle Pizza in Cardiff, said: “Those in hospitality will breathe a sigh of relief at the VAT reduction announced today, but a date for inside opening and a timeline for how to get there remains the top priority and would make the biggest difference for the sector in Wales.”