NI First Minister To Meet HU Monday Over Deepening COVID19 Crisis In Sector

15 March 2020

NI First Minister To Meet HU Monday Over Deepening COVID19 Crisis In Sector

The First Minister, Arlene Foster MLA, is set to meet Hospitality Ulster on Monday to address the devastating impact that COVID19 is having on the sector.

The urgent engagement comes soon after Hospitality Ulster set up the Industry Response Group to monitor and analyse the financial impact of the developing situation on a weekly basis, to identify the necessary practical support needed to alleviate any financial and operational pressures that may arise in the coming weeks and months.


Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster said today:


“We are now at a financial tipping point. Our sector is being hit first; will be hit the hardest; and may not recover at all, if Government does not act now.”


“We are about to see the jobs and livelihoods of many in the hospitality sector go to the wall unless Government takes some of the pain and introduces measures to match the unprecedented times we are in. We need our elected representatives to move fast and save our industry and the people who they representative right across Northern Ireland.”


“This isn’t an issue that is happening elsewhere, this is a disaster on our doorstep, and the NI Executive has it within its power to take decisions to help. Failure to assist will see significant job losses; establishments having to be sold off or boarded up; and the economy suffering with VAT and Tax takes down massively as many outlets will be no longer around. They simply can’t let that happen.”  


“We are seeking a range of urgent interventions from the NI Executive and Westminster to take swift and decisive action so that we can stave off the biggest disaster our sector has faced in living memory.”


Hospitality Ulster is seeking Government interventions specifically:


  • Shift the Rates calendar to June to March (currently April to January) and if required introduce a ‘Rates Holiday’
  • Allow Tourism NI and other Government Departments to ‘carry forward’ unspent budgets at the end of the financial year
  • Create / widen existing financial schemes such as a small business loan guarantee scheme to include small businesses and also look at short term working capital loans
  • Abolition of domestic Air Passenger Duty for Northern Ireland
  • A cut in Hospitality / Tourism VAT
  • Time to Pay - Deferred payments on all HMRC taxes e.g. VAT, PAYE, and Corporation Tax
  • Engagement with local banks and lenders
  • NI Government to be ready with additional hospitality and tourism marketing funds