Thousands of small businesses are getting buried under a mountain of debt because of lockdowns and restrictions, Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has said.
“Many within the Hospitality Sector are still massively suffering. Industry sources have estimated that there will be 40,000 fewer jobs in drinks and hospitality industry in 2022,” the Meath West TD said, sharing that he is aware of one café owner who has €100,000 amassed in debt despite only having four staff.
“Studies have shown that the majority of the 40,000 jobs that are being lost are women. Young people are the second group that is hardest hit in terms of job losses,” Deputy Tóibín said.
“It has been reported in the Sunday Independent that the Cabinet itself has been warned that up to 300,000 jobs and 25,000 businesses are dependent on the business supports that are being delivered by the government. There is a major fear that when these supports are pulled many of these businesses will close.”
“Stakeholders in hospitability are telling me that footfall is down to 60% on average of where it should be. The big hit is the wipe out of Christmas parties. December is often the month that Hospitality covers the cost of a quiet November, January and February. It’s a key harvest time for the sector. The sector is being hit also by the restrictions on Theatres and Pantomimes who themselves are significantly struggling,” he said.
“Remember the state has already spent over €40billion on Covid related supports and payments. This is twice the European average per capita. This level of debt is unsustainable into the long term,” Deputy Tóibín said.
“One of the key elements I am hearing from people in the sector is the level of debt that’s building up. Many café’s, restaurants and pubs are unable to cover their rent, their tax liabilities and their supplier bills. I know of one Café that has only 4 staff but already has €100,000 debt built up,” he revealed.
“This debt will have to crystalize somewhere. If it crystalizes at the restaurant level many of these businesses will close. 10 years ago the Government bailed out reckless banks to the tune of tens of billions of euro. Given that the government has restricted and closed many of these businesses we need to put in place some debt management solution for many of these businesses.”
“We need a longer solution to this. Covid will be with us possibly for years. We need to protect lives and lean to live with the illness in the long term,” the Aontú leader said.
“The yoyo restriction policy of the government is not working. We in Aontú have been calling for the roll out of HEPA filters in hospitality to make the sector safer and more resilient. We have also called for the addition of Venue Access Antigen Testing to be delivered by pharmacies and professionals in town squares. This again would make hospitality safter and therefore less likely to be closed or restricted by the government. We have also called for a significant increase in Hospital capacity so we can save more loves and the battle against this illness can be eased from the shoulders of society. Workers and business owners across the country need to be protected.”