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Private sector security companies call on Westminster for COVID-19 support

13 May 2020

A GROUP of eleven private sector security companies have joined forces in writing an open letter to Government and MPs in the House of Commons voicing their concerns around pressing employment issues presently impacting the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The signatories to the letter - the contents of which are, in the main, for the attention of Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer - are Peter Harrison (pictured, managing director of FGH Security), Mark Harding (managing director at Showsec), Russel Kerr MSyI (managing director of SecuriGroup), Adrian White (director of operations at Carlisle Support Services), Brett McMann (commercial director of Professional Security), Gordon McLean (company director at Bridgegate Security), Kim Beasley (business director at the Regency Security Group), Oli Nonis (owner and managing director of Akon Security), Richard Stevens (director at Radius Security), Steve Howe (managing director of Phoenix Security) and Tom Devine (managing director at TMS Protection).

Collectively, these businesses preside over circa £300 million worth of turnover per annum and employ 30,000 people. They represent a sample of the 246,000 Security Industry Authority (SIA) door supervision licence holders, many of whom support the £130 billion hospitality industry that has suffered markedly due to the impact of the pandemic.

In the open letter, the group has focused on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which they believe to be a welcome part of the Government’s package of measures designed to support businesses throughout the pandemic. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is due to come to an end (in its current form) on 30 June. Speculation abounds that the scheme will be extended, but only across certain sectors.

Speaking to Security Matters, Peter Harrison asserted: “According to The Guardian, around 27% of workers are now being supported by furlough payments across the private sector. However, the hospitality and events sector is disproportionately reliant on furlough with more than 80% of workers supported. We fully expect the events sector, the hospitality sector and the night-time economy to be included in any furlough scheme extension, but we are very concerned that this support will only go to those who are directly employed. We fear that contracted suppliers, such as professional door supervision companies, may well be left out.”

Relaxation of restrictions

Harrison referred to the possible relaxation of restrictions expected to be announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday 10 May and added: “If furlough is not extended to our professional employees, then companies who are fully HMRC-compliant face a significant bill for redundancy, notice pay and accrued holiday costs. Depending on the circumstances involved, a consultation process can take anywhere between 30 and 45 days. If we are talking about 45 days, then these consultations will need to start imminently on Sunday 17 May.”

The redundancy costs to which Harrison refers will mainly affect professional companies who are fully PAYE-compliant and contribute large amounts of income tax and National Insurance. Additional impacts include the concern for public safety if there's a shortage of trained and SIA-licensed door supervisors.

Harrison informed Security Matters: “Our good people could well leave the industry to find other work and might not return. We already have a shortage of personnel and run the risk of many of our people leaving the hospitality industry altogether and entering other sectors such as retail or healthcare. Our people could be left unemployed at a time when we are unsure of exactly what measures will be needed to enforce social distancing across society in general. Social distancing and public safety could be compromised at a later point in time if we do not act now.”

Examples of the additional costs and delays that the companies involved will incur if furlough support doesn't marry that of the hospitality industry's own furlough package include re-employment costs, re-vetting, inductions and re-training.

Harrison urged: “We are calling for support from the Government, our MPs, the SIA and our colleagues within the police service and council licensing. We want them to assist us with ensuring that we have a voice that's heard and that we are not forgotten about.”