06 January 2021


Majority of financial aid promised failing to reach hard pressed NI hospitality businesses as ONS says 50% do not have the financial reserves to make it to February


Hospitality Ulster has criticised the overall lack of urgency in ensuring that financial support is getting to the majority of the industry.


The hospitality sector which has suffered massively during several lockdowns and has had significant periods of closure with no funding, now needs to be prioritised to get promised grants delivered, says Hospitality Ulster. The situation has been compounded with the announcement by the Chancellor this week that businesses in the sector in England are to receive a one off grant boost worth thousands of pounds. Hospitality Ulster says that this much needed additional funding should be mirrored here without delay.


Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster said:


“We are grateful for the limited financial support already received in the form of LRSS grants issued by the Department of Finance, but there is still considerable financial support that has been promised which remains outstanding from the Department of Economy.”


“Additional support has been promised for non-food pubs, large hospitality businesses and company directors, many of which have received nothing. We haven’t seen it and months and months have passed since it was announced. Our sector contributes around £2billion a year to the economy but has been the worst impacted of any business sector with extensive closures and restricted trading, even when open, and needs to be prioritised with a sense of urgency injected into getting money into the bank accounts of those who are in desperate need.”


“Traditional non-food pubs were only allowed to open 23 days since March and food-led hospitality businesses (food-pubs, restaurants and hotels) only allowed to open under severe restrictions for 119 days out of the last 290 days. These businesses have no cash reserves left and it is becoming harder and harder to remain afloat.”


“Before Christmas, statistics showed that half of hospitality businesses did not have sufficient cash reserves to make it to February and only 1 in 5 were confident of survival beyond the first quarter of this year. This is worrying evidence that many of the hospitality businesses here who are in the small or micro category will simple be obliterated.”


“Hundreds of business are struggling and wholly reliant on even the smallest amount of financial support. In reality, any grant money will be going to offset previous debts accumulated from last year and consideration must now be given for a bespoke recovery plan for the sector.”


“We cannot live on promised support that might be on its way, we need to get cash in the hands of those debt ridden business owners and employers. Outstanding bills still need to be paid and with no way of trading, the entire industry finds itself in a very grave situation.”


“Without access to cash, hospitality businesses can’t afford the cost of furloughing staff or to pay the fixed costs for a closed and empty building.”


“This situation cannot continue and needs immediate action to get the grants flowing.”


“We have written to Mike Brennan, the Department of Economy Permanent Secretary, requesting that he now takes personal responsibility for the delivery of these grants and meets with us to agree a timeline for payment.”