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Overwhelmed hardship fund forced to turn away hospitality workers seeking help

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Many hospitality firms have been forced to close. (David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A charity has been forced to turn away hospitality workers from its hardship fund just a day after it launched after it was inundated with pleas for help.

Hospitality Action received more than 30,000 emails in a single day inquiring about its emergency COVID-19 fund for workers in trouble as the coronavirus has battered the sector.

It said in a statement on Tuesday it had already received applications from more workers than the fund could support.

Hospitality leaders believe 500,000 jobs have already been lost as sales at restaurants, hotels, bars and other venues and catering firms has collapsed in recent weeks.

The government’s decision to order venues to close in recent days is expected to threaten further widespread job losses, despite an unprecedented taxpayer-funded scheme to pay the wages of staff who would otherwise be laid off.

Read more: UK workers’ fears for their jobs hit eight-year high

Hospitality Action had opened the £250 grant to individual applications on Monday after fundraising to support those affected by the pandemic’s heavy economic toll. Chefs including Tom Brown, Raymond Blanc, Simon Rimmer and Tom Kerridge all gave it their backing.

But on Tuesday morning it said it would no longer be accepting any more applications for its COVID-19 emergency grants in a message on Twitter.

“As soon as additional funds become available, we will allocate them to successful beneficiaries who have already submitted an application and who meet our criteria,” the organisation said.

Read more: UK risks ‘worst recession in modern history’