As many as one million hospitality jobs have been lost this week, with groups laying off on average 80% of their staff, according to a straw poll conducted by Street Feast founder Jonathon Downey.

Downey fears a further million jobs could be lost his week and next, unless the chancellor Rishi Sunak offers something “extraordinary”.

He warned operators they could should plan to be closed until June at the earliest.

The survey of operators shows nine business with more than 100 employees had laid off 80% of their staff, while five businesses with 100 staff are more had laid off 95% or more.

One 700-strong company has laid off 97% of its staff, according to the survey.

Downey is calling for an employee rescue plan which gives employees who have lost their jobs as a result of covid-19 something significant.

He says £250 per week per employee would cost £4bn and save 1m jobs.

Speaking to industry operators, Downey said: “Laying-off members of your team or making them redundant, is probably the worst thing any of us will have to do during this whole crisis.

“It’s already happened to over a million, mostly younger people, and our industry has had to pay the highest price of any. We need to do everything we can to soften the blow of an individual’s complete loss of livelihood. This is especially the case for employees for whom English is not their first language.

UK Hospitality analysis suggested one million jobs are at risk, and urged the Government to announce an employment support plan to help protect livelihoods.

The group is urgently calling for an immediate package of support for businesses within the next 24 hours.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality said: “Job cuts are extraordinarily deep and they are happening now – today and tomorrow, and are snowballing.   Companies are having to make the very difficult decisions now and with many hospitality and leisure businesses now having to choose to close or massively reduce their operations, there is little chance of saving many jobs without far-reaching help.  

“While the extra measures announced [on Tuesday] represent significant help that will give many companies a lifeline, the massive issue remains people and preservation of jobs.  What was announced by the Chancellor will not stop job losses as companies will be very worried about taking loans to pay staff when they have zero income – for many, it just isn’t viable.

“This is about helping individual people to preserve their employment status, and to avoid swamping the already-strained welfare system.  It will also allow companies to keep their teams and be ready to aid the economic recovery when stability returns.”

UKHospitality estimates that across the hospitality sector, in the two weeks since the impact of the coronavirus was truly felt in the UK, that this industry has shorn between 200,000 and 250,000 jobs, with majority of these cuts coming in the past few days.

Nicholls added “The speed of change and the severity of the action companies are now having to take is shocking and many, many more will be lost in the coming days, without help.”

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