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Ongoing rates relief, insurance ruling welcomed by sector

Colin Neill, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster.

A proposal to continue rates relief for businesses, included in Finance Minister Conor Murphy’s draft budget announced yesterday, has been welcomed by Hospitality Ulster.

“The intention to maintain rates relief in the draft budget is to be welcomed, especially when things are so very tough in the hospitality sector now and will take a long time to recover,” said Colin Neill chief executive, Hospitality Ulster.

“Every element of economic support is required. However, critically, this support does not meet the actual need and will not cover a full year for many. We have to support the Finance Minister in his call to force Westminster and the Treasury to step up to allocate the badly needed additional funding.

“We find ourselves in a dire situation in the hospitality sector and it is likely that we will be closed beyond the next UK Budget in March and we need to see financial pressures taken off business owners right across the industry.”

“It Is disappointing that this is a budget for only one year. We need a budgetary cycle of at least three years to allow for longer term planning and certainty. We need cash injections now for any chance of future survival, Westminster must recognise that.”

Hospitality Ulster also welcomed last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court that insurance companies must pay out against claims of business interruption in relation to Covid-19.

“Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, business owners acted responsibly and took out policies that would shield them from the worst impacts of their businesses being interrupted,” said Neill. “While insurance companies have argued no one could have foreseen a global health pandemic and medical crisis, this is what the insurance is in place for – it’s purchased to mitigate against the unknown.

“This ruling will come as welcome relief to those owners who may have thought all was lost and that the costs associated with such insurance policies were worthless.

“This will only help a limited number of hospitality businesses, but a job of work needs to be done to ensure that claims are paid out swiftly and without delay and that the insurers play ball.”

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