THE whole night-time economy of the BCP area will “literally close” unless the chancellor offers more help than today's jobs support package, it is claimed.

Andy Lennox, of the hospitality sector group Wonky Table, said he knew one venue operator who was set to make 60 people redundant after Rishi Sunak announced his plan.

The job support scheme will see workers receiving 77 per cent of their pay if they are put on shorter hours rather than made redundant. Government and employers will share the cost of the initiatve, which will replace the furlough scheme in November. 

VAT on hospitality and tourism will remain at five per cent until March 31, while businesses will be given up to 10 years to repay bounce back loans.

But Mr Lennox said: “Again, there has been no support for the night-time economy. It’s really difficult because they’re on their knees.

“Unless a specific package of support comes in for them, they won’t be here.

“We talk about BCP being a world class resort and we’re about to literally close our whole night time economy.”

He added: “The bar industry has lost 80 per cent of their revenue overnight. For the club industry, it’s 100 per cent.  They are effectively closed.”

Steve Witt co-founder of Bournemouth Airport-based Not Just Travel and the Travel Franchise, was concerned about paying people for hours they would not work. "We welcome any measures to help a financially crippled business sector and the headlines of this scheme do sound interesting. However, as you start to go deeper it does raise many questions," he said.

“Certainly at the lower end of the pay scale where there may be more abundance of unemployed, would it actually be cheaper for a business to make an employee redundant and actually employ multiple people on a part-time basis? With this new scheme it would appear that in addition to the 33 per cent of hours which we pay for and benefit from, we have to pay another 33 per cent to not have a team member.

"Certainly in our business we need as many people working as possible to keep up with the operational demands of the business, processing refunds and changes – all non-income generating work – so we can ill-afford dead cashflow to pay for a team member to be not working.

"We will review the new policy carefully to see how we can use it to help retain as many people as possible, but we are concerned that it’s not beneficial for our sector. "

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “A crunch point was inevitable with the end of the furlough scheme and the chancellor is correct to place the protection of viable jobs at the heart of this scheme.

“It is encouraging to see all SMEs included although some may have legitimate concerns about meeting the stringent criteria, as will large businesses which face greater hurdles in order to qualify.

“One key point which was good to see at this time was the restriction on capital distributions to shareholders.

“The extension of the loans schemes and VAT deferral measures will give cash-poor businesses much needed breathing space and a measure of certainty.

“Dorset’s hard-pressed tourism and hospitality will welcome the extension of the reduced VAT rate although many will feel the chancellor could have gone further before a long winter.

“Any measures to support jobs is incredibly welcome but there will be challenging times to come and more hard decisions ahead, especially when the new job support scheme ends in April of next year.”

Tim Seward, chair of BH Area Hospitality Association, said: “said: "The welcoming news of the chancellor’s job support scheme and extension to the five per cent VAT until end of March is great news for hotels in the area who without this help would have had to make redundancies due to less demand for rooms in the winter to summer months.

"This will enable hotels to keep their teams in place ready for the 2021 season.”

Nick Hixson, of Bournemouth-based accountancy and advisory firm Hixsons, said:  “The hospitality five per cent VAT is a big and very helpful call, as it paying VAT deferred over 12 months. I’ve already had conversations about the affordability of deferred VAT.

“I don’t think this is going to save that many jobs but it might save more businesses.”