THE importance of the hospitality industry to Ceredigion’s local economy and the need for further intervention by the Treasury has been stressed by MP Ben Lake

A Westminster Hall debate, brought about by an online petition signed by more than 200,000 people, saw MPs on both sides come together to shine a light on the challenges currently faced by restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and supply chain businesses across the UK.

Ceredigion is home to nearly 400 food and accommodation businesses, including 75 pubs, and together hospitality businesses employ 4,500 people in the county.

This equates to more than 16 per cent of all employees, without accounting for the many supply chain jobs that are dependent on the sector, such as those found in breweries, food wholesale and catering equipment hire businesses.

Figures published by UK Hospitality have shown that 41 per cent of hospitality businesses suggested that they would fail by mid-2021 and only one in five sector businesses have enough cash flow to survive beyond February.

Mr Lake said: “The vaccination programme of course offers some hope that we will see the level of Covid disruption reduce significantly this year, but hospitality businesses across Ceredigion tell me that they are deeply concerned about their immediate prospects for survival.

“Business I have spoken to fully understand the pandemic was never going to be an easy time. Their expectations have long been calibrated to focus on basic survival.

“The Chancellor was right to bring forward support measures even though they required extraordinary public expenditure. There are strong arguments to continue with this level of intervention

“I support calls for the Treasury to provide additional funds so that businesses can be supported to bounce back once restrictions have been eased, and to pause employer national insurance contributions for furloughed employees as a way of alleviating the burden on businesses that are still, in many instances, required by law to close.

“I also urge the Treasury to consider extending the business rates holiday for the forthcoming financial year, as well as extending the hospitality VAT reduction scheme into 2022.

“Not only would these support measures give businesses the support they require to see out this pandemic, it would also avoid the terrible situation whereby businesses that have previously received Government support are forced to close for good – leaving their employees without a job and previous Government support in vain.

“It would be money well spent.”