David Stevens, CEO of the Textile Services Association (TSA), has written a second open letter to the government about the Covid 19 outbreak and response to the textile care hotel industry
April 15, 2020
To the attention of:
The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, State Secretary for Enterprise, Energy and Industry Strategy
I am writing this additional open letter as managing director of TSA, the trade association for the industrial and commercial laundry industry.
We represent over 29,000 employees, 24,000 of whom have been given leave, according to our latest industry survey. We are very grateful for the Job Retention Scheme and congratulate the government on its implementation. However, as the numbers show, we are in a crisis. The survey also found that over 50% of our members have received no additional government aid and 70% do not expect to survive the next 90 days without support. This would be catastrophic for the hotel and restaurant industry, which depends on our industry to provide them with the clean towels, bed and table linens they need every day, over 15 million pieces a week! You cannot open again without us.
We are aware that we are not alone in this business landscape to lobby for further support. However, we believe that our industry should be treated fairly. We identified two key messages as follows that may or may not make the difference between many survivors in our industry.
Hospitality Grant (Small Business Grant Fund) and discharge of the business rate 2020-2021
If our members' business is completely dependent on the hospitality sector, why are laundries not included in this sector so that some can benefit from the SBGF and everyone can benefit from the relief in business rates? Our members in Scotland have rightly had access to this support and laundry is clearly identified as a benefactor. When restaurants, hotels, pubs and leisure clubs were closed, laundries in the hospitality industry were also closed. I believe this is an oversight that could easily be corrected and gives our industry a respite that enables and motivates more of our member companies to keep fighting to come out on the other side.
We need certainty that the vacation schedule (CJRS) will be maintained during the ramp after the lock. As a service provider, our factories will only return at the price that the hotel industry achieves. This will be the most critical time for many laundries, as they have to be open for business, but initially have to be of exceptionally low volume. You need ongoing financial support as long as the startup takes place. The key point here will be a more flexible approach to the vacation rules that affect the ability to get employees back to work during the startup phase.
I deliberately kept this letter short and to the point, but if there is no more strategic approach to supporting companies – not just employees – there will be no companies left to reinstate the thousands of workers on leave.