The Savoy Hotel in London, UK in 1980 (Getty)

The Savoy Hotel in London, UK in 1980 (Getty)

Britain’s largest hotel lobby warned that employers may cut half a million jobs when the government ends its wage support program.

A representative for UK Hospitality told Parliament on Monday that its members owe around $132 million in back taxes and owe landlords roughly $5.1 billion, according to Bloomberg News.

The government’s furlough program has helped draw investment to the United Kingdom’s pub and bar sector.

“All it takes is one landlord to be recalcitrant and to not concede or not negotiate and it could be enough to trigger insolvency across the whole of the estate,” UK Hospitality’s Kate Nicholls said.

She also warned that those debts will become an unsustainable burden if the British government does not follow through with plans to drop all lockdown rules by June 21.

Some government officials have said a full reopening may not be possible because a new variant of Covid-19 has been spreading in the country.

The pandemic hit U.K. hospitality providers hard, like the rest of the world. The U.S. hospitality industry was down about 411,000 jobs in December 2020 from a year prior, though it has recently showed some signs of recovery and led employment gains for the last several months.

But even when a full reopening does happen, Nicholls said the U.K. industry is facing a unique challenge: the loss of migrant workers to the European Union. She said the government should introduce an emergency recovery visa for workers to return.

[Bloomberg News] — Dennis Lynch