19 May 2020



Hospitality Ulster welcomes rate relief announcement by NI Executive following extensive lobby by the trade body.

Reacting to the announcement that rate relief will continue for the hospitality and retail sectors; Colin Neill, CEO, Hospitality Ulster said;

“We welcome the announcement today- ongoing targeted rate relief for the hospitality sector has been a key ask by Hospitality Ulster and I am glad the Executive have listened.

“Whilst we have seen some restaurants and bars provide delivery / click and collect services, this has been about putting food on the table for the of owners who have not benefited from any government support.

“But it does not pay the bills.

“We realise other sectors have suffered due to the Coronavirus crisis with a reduced income.

“But the hospitality sector has been the hardest impacted by the Coronavirus lockdown, we are a front line service and online isn’t an option.

“The hospitality industry also will struggle to return to viability under social distancing measures when it finally reopens.

“It is therefore vital that rate relief for our industry continues for the foreseeable future; even when we do reopen.

“We will continue to work with both the Northern Ireland Executive and Westminster Governments to secure the additional support outlined in the Hospitality Industry Road to Recovery 12 Point Plan.”




The Hospitality Industry ‘Road to Recovery’ report 12 Point Plan calls for:

  1. Health & Safety

The process to develop an industry specific health & safety/social distancing policy and procedures to ensure the wellbeing of staff and consumers has already begun. With HSE, SOLACE and the industry working in partnership to ensure they are both effective and deliverable.

  1. Consumer Confidence

The development and delivery of an industry specific ‘safety’ kite mark and a coordinated marketing strategy, promoting the safety standards to the general public in order to restore confidence.

  1. Social Distancing Implementation Voucher

A Government funded voucher scheme to support the installation of both physical and technical measures to comply with Government social distancing requirements. Based on similar voucher-based initiatives already offered by Invest NI and at a value proportionate to the capacity of the premises.

  1. Rates Relief

With social distancing measures likely to severely restrict the capacity of premises and therefore severely reduce income, Government must introduce a targeted, rolling rates holiday, with quarterly reviews and requirement tests for the worst affected industries, particularly hospitality.

  1. Business Suspension Fund

For businesses that are unable to safely implement the required social distancing measures, or that have a seasonal business and have missed their prime season, a Government funded Business Suspension fund could be used to meet ongoing fixed costs until they can resume trading. This fund could be administrated by existing agencies such as Invest NI, with a light touch application process that pays agreed fixed costs within set parameters.

  1. CJRS (Furlough Scheme)

Continued support through the Job Retention Scheme for employees whose services are not immediately required at the outset is essential, in order to allow a gradual return to work as business levels dictate.

In addition, the introduction of a ‘Flexi-Furlough type scheme – amending the current furlough system so that staff can work on a number of days as dictated by growing demand, but be furloughed on days when not required.

This could be followed by a phased move to a percentage of wage payments, to assist in the gradual crossover from subsidy to sustainability.

  1. Banking

Continued support and flexibility from Banks and financial institutions during the recovery period. This would involve further support in respect of deferred capital payments and working capital facilities.

  1. Bounce Back Loans

A continuation of the Bounce Back Loan scheme is required as businesses begin trading and need to diversify into a new business model and invest in new equipment.

  1. Rent Hardship Fund

Establish a Government hardship fund to support tenants and landlords that have agreed a reduction in rents, with Government making up a proportion of the shortfall.

  1. HMRC

Continued flexibility from HMRC in relation to VAT payments beyond the current deadline date of March 2021. With the delayed payments to be made over a five year period.

  1. VAT Rate

A cut in the VAT rate, to assist businesses reduce dependency of other forms of Government support and boost the domestic and all island visitor market. It is noted that this has already been costed by Government.

  1. APD

Abolish domestic APD. With GB being the major visitor market for NI, air connectivity will be a key factor in rebuilding both the tourism and wider economy.


The Northern Ireland Hospitality Industry Road to Recovery Report can be downloaded HERE