The hospitality workforce facing layoffs should be mobilised to provide a subsidised meal service for the elderly and vulnerable stuck at home during the covid-19 crisis, corporate advisor Peter Hansen has told MCA.

Hansen said the move would fulfil the government’s duty of care to its vulnerable citizens, while keeping a highly skilled workforce in jobs and not forced into poverty and benefits themselves.

The Sapient Corporate Finance founder said the solution would generate “enormous goodwill” for the government and industry if there was a way to make the economics work.

As many as one million staff are thought to have lost their jobs this week, with a straw poll suggesting hospitality businesses are laying off 80% of staff.

Hansen told MCA: “We have an industry with tremendous skills, and those skills need to be kept at work. Companies need to keep as many employed as possible, because they’ve spent huge sums of money building up those skills.

“In the short term, the government needs to say, don’t make those people unemployed, we’ve got people who need to eat, we’ll subsidize you, so we can get food to people at home.

“We need to change the system around so rather than people coming to the food, the food comes to the people, particularly the elderly and the shut in, who have reasons to stay at home.

“The government has to do that, otherwise unemployment benefits are going to go up, the industry will lose expertise. To me, it’s the right thing to do.”

Hansen said the government owed the industry, having taken its tax revenues for granted during the post-recession years.

“The government has sucked huge amounts of cash out of the industry since the financial crisis, and the industry has survived,” he added. “Now it is time for the government to give some of that money back in a way that helps society.”