Even as lockdown continues and Britain adapts to the coronavirus outbreak, the property market has shown tentative signs of bouncing back.
Mortgage approvals have risen, some indices show house prices are up, and the homeloan freeze for those with smaller deposits has thawed somewhat.
Those elements and the evidence emerging that axing stamp duty on properties under £500,000 has put a swing in the upper end of the market’s step, all point to green shoots emerging.
The big question, of course, is whether property prices will fall back as job losses bite, however, many aspiring first-time buyers are still keen as low mortgage rates mean that owning a home can be cheaper on a monthly basis than renting.
There is a lot first time buyers will need to take into consideration before purchasing a home
Some saving for a first home may also be buoyed by being able to save more, thanks to falling everyday costs for bills such as the commute and eating out.
Nearly a quarter of those planning to buy their first property say they have been able to tuck away more cash during lockdown, according to research from the Nottingham Building Society.
A fifth also say they should be able to buy sooner because mortgage rates have fallen during the crisis, partly due to the Bank of England base rate dropping to 0.1 per cent in March, its lowest rate on record.
However, first-time buyers still have plenty to navigate, from finding the right home to deciding what sort of mortgage is suitable for them, and that’s not to forget the not inconsisderable hurdle of making sure they can cobble together enough for a deposit to get a foot on the property ladder.
This is even more important, as the slashing of large numbers of the 10 and even 15 per cent deposit mortgages on offer, mean that while rates are still at all-time lows, it might be slim pickings for first-time buyers.
To help potential first-time buyers understand what they need to know before buying a property in a pandemic market, we go back to basics…
What deposit do you need?
When it comes to buying a home, the typical rule of thumb is you’ll need 10 per cent of a property’s value. So, on a £200,000 home, a £20,000 deposit.
The absolute minimum is 5 per cent, but in the current climate, these deals are rare, while the average is actually 15 per cent.
What mortgage rate you can get is the size of your deposit – how big a percentage of the property’s value you can put down.
As of March 2020, the average UK house price in the is £231,855, according to Land Registry data, meaning a 15 per cent deposit would be just shy of £35,000.
David Hollingworth, associate director of L&C Mortgages, said: ‘Having a good deposit will help open up the options for any borrower but that is particularly true for a first-time buyer.
‘The pandemic effectively closed the housing market for a period which saw lenders limiting their product ranges.
‘Although those product ranges have expanded since the market reopened, there are limited options for those with smaller deposits.
‘As a result the minmum expectation is a 10 per cent deposit and although there’s gradual improvement in the 90 per cent loan to value, or the mortgage as a percentage of the property price market, the choice widens for those with at least 15 per cent to put down.’
Check: Before you apply for mortgage, it is important to make sure your finances are in order
What do I need to do before applying for a mortgage?
Before you apply for mortgage, it is important to make sure your finances are in order.
As well as making sure you have enough to pay the deposit on your home, you’ll need to factor in potential estate agent fees, extra product fees and all other associated costs that come with buying a house.
Other caveats to consider are terms such as if you leave a mortgage early, you could get charged an early repayment charge.
Before making any applications, you should do a credit check as you can see what lenders will be looking at when deciding whether to consider you or not.
You can read some tricks here on how to improve your credit score – and this could be wise in advance to applying for a mortgage.
When you do come to applying, a mortgage lender will look at the gap between what you have to spend each month and what you have coming in – and then crunch the sums.
You will be asked about your spending on things like feeding the family, childcare, a car loan, your energy bills, mobile phone and gym contracts.
Mortgage lenders won’t just have to assess your mortgage’s affordability now, they will also need to try and work out what will happen to you in the future and stress test for theoretical interest rate rises.
It will also not be enough simply to tell the lender or adviser about these things, you will need to provide evidence of regular outgoings and how much that sets you back.
When it comes to the amount that can be borrowed the lender will look at income and outgoings to assess affordability, rather than applying a straightforward income multiple.
It could be a useful exercise to go through monthly costs to make sure that committed and regular outgoings such as utilities, travel, food costs and childcare to ensure they are all understood accurately.
You can consider going through a mortgage broker who will help navigate through the maze, or do your own research and approach a bank directly who will put you in touch with a mortgage adviser.
Most lenders have mortgage calculators on their website, which can show how much someone might be able to borrow. We have one below:
Compare true mortgage costs
Work out mortgage costs and check what the real best deal taking into account rates and fees. You can either use one part to work out a single mortgage costs, or both to compare loans
- Mortgage 1
- Mortgage 2
For a deposit, the absolute minimum you will need is 5% but the average deposit is 15%
Freehold vs leasehold
There are two different options when choosing a property – freehold and leasehold.
A freeholder owns the land and property outright whereas a leaseholder will have been granted a lease and giving the right to live in the property for a specific period of time.
Flats are usually leasehold with the freeholder granting a lease on the flats but it can also apply to houses – although that is subject to a deal of scrutiny and now banned on new houses.
Leaseholders may then need to pay a service charge and ground rent to the freeholder.
In some cases the leaseholders will buy the freehold of the property and set up a management company with each leaseholder being a shareholder/director.
Lenders will typically expect there to be a minimum period remaining on the lease to meet their criteria so a short leasehold term remaining will present issues.
Leaseholders will have rights to extend their term though. Click here for more information.
How do I put in an offer?
Putting an offer in would usually be done through the vendor’s estate agent. House hunters usually call or go into the estate agent to confirm the offer.
Ensure you have it in writing or in an email as proof of the offer.
The estate agent will ask you about where the money is going to come from and they might ask questions about how quickly you can go ahead with the purchase as well.
They will then pass that offer to the vendor who can decide whether it’s acceptable or whether they want to decline it.
If they decline the offer, it is time to decide whether you wish to negotiate the price or leave it.
What fees am I facing?
First-time buyers were already exempt from paying stamp duty up to £300,000. This is a tax on homes and land.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a stamp duty cut until 31 March 2021 meaning that first-time property buyers lucky enough to have a chunkier deposit will potentially be able to purchase a more expensive home without having to pay.
First-time buyers can now purchase properties up to the cost of £500,000 without being taxed. But, some experts point out that this might be bad news for first-time buyers, thanks to enhanced competition for homes.
Other fees buyers will need to take into consideration is having their property valued so that they can be sure the property will be adequate security for the mortgage.
Lenders require this but there are many mortgage deals on the market that will cover that cost.
However, it could be worth a more detailed survey to help pick out any potential problems with the property, such as damp, which can prove costly down the road.
That could even help with negotiation of the purchase price if there is some necessary maintenance or repair work.
The legal costs and search fees will also be one to shop around for as they will amount to hundreds of pounds or more.
There are different types of service varying from online conveyancing options through to a local firm and although costs may vary much will come down to the buyer’s preference.
Finally, mortgage deals can carry a range of fees and some of the lowest rates will carry big arrangement fees of £1,000 or more.
Although these can generally be added to the mortgage on completion rather than be paid upfront it is important to factor them in when deciding on the best deal.
Most lenders offer a range of different rate/fee combinations and may also add incentives such as free valuation and cashback.
Looking at the overall cost over the deal period could mean that a slightly higher rate with lower fees will be cheaper overall.
A spokesperson for Nationwide said: ‘Buying a first home is often the biggest financial transaction someone will make, so it is important to get advice to make sure that they get a product that fits their needs.
‘Lenders have specialist mortgage consultants in branches who can help guide first time buyers and answer any of their questions.
‘Alternatively, an independent mortgage broker will also be able to offer advice and help search the market to find the right mortgage.
‘When comparing mortgages, always make sure to factor in any fees that may apply during the term of the deal as lowest rate doesn’t always mean lowest cost.’
For a deposit, the absolute minimum buyers will need is 5% but the average deposit is 15%
How do I get a good mortgage deal?
There are hundreds of mortgage deals on the market so it can be difficult to decide which one to opt for.
It could be worth hiring a mortgage broker to help you with the decision although you are not obliged to pick the option they choose.
There are many different mortgage rates to compare. To help you find the best deal for you, use This is Money’s mortgage finder tool, powered by L&C.
How much you can borrow from a lender will depend on your financial situation and how many people will be paying out.
Hollingworth added: ‘Lenders will offer what’s often known as an Agreement or Decision in Principle.
‘This takes the basic information required and the lender will credit check and score the applicant to give the potential borrowing amount.
‘This can be useful reassurance but it isn’t a guarantee and things could change once a full application is submitted along with back up documents.
‘Although many lenders will now only leave a soft footprint some will leave a trace on the borrower’s credit file and too many of those can put lenders off, so there’s no real benefit in taking a DIP from a long list of lenders.
‘Once the property is identified and an offer accepted it’s possible to pin down the specific mortgage product and to shop around for the best overall deal for the individual circumstances from across the market.’
The best 85 per cent loan-to-value deal on the market is currently a two-year fix from Lloyds Bank at 1.68 per cent with a fee of £1,048, followed by a similar deal from Marsden Building Society at 1.69 per cent with a £998 fee.
For those with smaller deposits the best 90 per cent loan-to-value deals on the market are currently a two-year fix from First Direct at 2.29 per cent with a fee of £490, followed by a two-year fix from HSBC at 2.44 per cent with a £999 fee.
What are the different types of mortgage?
There are thousands of different mortgage deals available at any one time but most will fall into one of two camps, fixed or variable.
Fixed rates do what they say on the tin and the interest rate won’t change during the fixed rate period, no matter what happens with interest rates in the wider market.
That makes them a good choice for those that want to know exactly what they will pay for a certain length of time to help give some budgeting certainty.
Variable rates can come in different types but as the name implies they will rise and fall over time.
Tracker rates are usually directly pegged to the Bank of England Base Rate by a specified margin, so any ups and downs will be directly applied to the borrower’s mortgage rate.
Other variable deals may offer discounts from the lender’s standard variable rate for a set period of time.
Again that means rates can go up and down but the lender is in control of its standard variable rate, so those changes may not necessarily be in line with a Base Rate change.
With either type of variable deal, there’s a chance that rates could fall but it’s important that the borrower understands that rates could rise and that they will be able to carry on meeting payments if rates rise further than they anticipated.
There are three types of mortgage buyers can choose from: a variable, a fixed and a tracker
What happens when I exchange?
Exchange of contracts is when the two legal firms representing the buyer and seller swap sign contracts and the buyer pays a deposit.
This essentially makes the agreement to buy binding so buyers will be expected to have handed over a deposit. A completion date will then be set.
This is the time to make sure that there is buildings insurance in place on the new property which should be in place from the date of exchange.
Ensure you get a written mortgage offer and if you’re buying a leasehold or share of a freehold property, read the lease carefully.
If you have a Help to Buy Isa, let your provider know you’re exchanging so they can request the Government bonus.
Repaying your mortgage
There are several different ways to repay your mortgage which are listed below.
Capital and interest: This is also known as a capital repayment mortgage.
Home owners make a payment to the mortgage company each month which is made up of capital and interest and keep paying this amount for the life of the mortgage. By its end, your debt will be cleared and you own the property outright.
The sums to calculate repayments assume you remain with that mortgage for the entire term.
As most people change mortgages or move house, your balance and repayments will be recalculated.
Help to buy
The Help to Buy scheme is still running for existing participants but closed to new applicants in November 2019.
This scheme helped first time house buyers who saved money into their Help to Buy Isa.
The Government boosted savings put into the Isa by 25 per cent, up to a maximum of £3,000 a year. This means for every £200 you save, the Government will put in £50.
However, the Lifetime Isa is more beneficial as savers can put in up to a maximum of £4,000 a year instead. Read about that below.
Interest only: This option is increasingly difficult to come by – particularly for any first-time buyers applying for a mortgage.
Property owners only pay interest rather than capital repayments.
However, the practice is often now frowned upon by lenders because at the end of the mortgage term you still owe them all the money and this is considered more risky.
If you do pick this option, it is up to you to make sure you have the money at the end of the term to pay off the mortgage.
When interest-only initially evolved most people invested in some sort of savings plan to build up the pot to pay it off, as the mortgage boom gripped this practice slid leading to widespread problems. I
f you don’t have the money to pay off the mortgage at the end of the term, you will have to sell your home to clear the debt.
Most lenders will want to see evidence at the application stage of how you are putting money away to eventually pay off the mortgage.
Capital and interest (repayment mortgage): It is also possible to get a mortgage deal with a combination of the two where part of the loan is interest only. These are among the most popular type of mortgage on the market.
At the beginning of the term, the majority of the payment is used to cover the interest and only a small amount is paid towards reducing the mortgage.
Over the course of the repayments, more and more of the monthly payment is comprised of paying back the capital borrowed.
As the debt reduces, the capital element of payment increases and the interest element reduces, so although the monthly repayment stays the same, assuming the interest rate remains unaltered, the debt starts to reduce more quickly as the term of the mortgage progresses.
The Lifetime Isa is used by applicants to buy your first home or save for later life.
Applicants to the Lifetime Isa are guaranteed a 25 per cent return from the Government and if you are solely looking to put it towards a home, it is worth having.
You must be 18 or over but under 40 to open a Lifetime Isa and you can hold cash or stocks and shares in your Lifetime Isa, or have a combination of both.
The Government promises to top up 25 per cent of whatever you put in to your Lifetime Isa, up to £4,000 per year.
Therefore, if you put in £4,000, drip-fed over the year, you would get a £1,000 bonus at the end of it.
The Lifetime Isa comes with a caveat though, you can only withdraw the money in it with your bonus intact if you are either buying your first home, or over 60.
If you don’t meet those criteria, you will lose 25 per cent of the amount you have withdrawn.
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Fund tech revolution, Bank chief tells Chancellor
Britain’s top economist has called on the Government to spearhead a tech revolution for millions of firms, creating a ‘faster and smarter’ economy as the country fights its way back from the Covid-19 crisis.
Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane – writing in his capacity as chairman of the Industrial Strategy Council – said a new blueprint must be drawn up with a raft of measures, including tax incentives and access to finance to feed an ‘appetite’ among firms to adopt new technology.
The surprise intervention – in a joint document prepared for The Mail on Sunday by Haldane and former John Lewis Partnership chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield – comes just weeks ahead of an expected Spending Review by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Plea: Andy Haldane is calling on Rishi Sunak to draft a new blueprint for the economy
It is unusual for a senior official who also holds a high-ranking position at the Bank of England to make such broad-reaching policy recommendations.
Haldane, who sits on the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee, and Mayfield want small and medium-sized companies to urgently adopt or update software across key areas such as accounting, HR, customer relationship management and marketing.
The paper says the economic recovery in July was ‘further and faster than anyone expected’ after the collapse in the second quarter.
But the writers say it is vital to seize ‘the opportunities, as well as the obvious challenges, of Covid’ and ‘technologically upgrade our businesses and our economy’.
UK business has been a ‘laggard’ in adopting new technology despite playing ‘a leading role’ in developing it, the paper says. ‘That is particularly true among the smaller and mid-sized businesses which employ nearly two thirds of people working in the UK. This explains why, despite rapid innovation, aggregate productivity among UK companies has flat lined for more than a decade.’ Haldane and Mayfield add: ‘Technology adoption needs to be at the heart of industrial policy. Levelling up the UK’s companies, through improved tech adoption, is an essential element of levelling up our regions.’
The paper – which the MoS has made available in full at thisismoney.co.uk – calls for ‘incentives for companies to make the right investment choices’ and to make it easier for them ‘to access finance to fund this investment’.
It also calls for support through advice shared by large corporations with smaller firms, through local ‘tech hubs’ and online. A survey of 500 small and medium firms released alongside the paper reveals one in eight are using systems more than a decade old and another third using systems six to ten years old. A third said they have acquired technology that has barely been used.
But the paper says the Covid crisis has presented a major opportunity because ‘rapid and radical technological adoption has been essential to the survival of many firms’.
Mayfield chairs Be The Business, a Government-backed organisation set up to solve Britain’s sluggish productivity largely by encouraging wider use of technology.
Its research has revealed adoption of new technology among businesses rose four times faster during the crisis than it did for the entirety of 2019. In many cases, firms were forced to act as they switched to working from home. Mayfield said last night: ‘Business technology has not kept pace with consumer technology. It’s not just about Zoom and it’s not about AI and advanced technology.
‘It’s about wider adoption of pretty well-established tools that have been proven to improve growth of businesses that use them – accounting and HR software, CRM [customer relationship management] systems, online trading, export tools and really getting to grips with social media and marketing.’
But there had been resistance in the past from firms fearful of the disruption that implementing new technology can cause. ‘It’s hard work and it’s difficult,’ he said.
Referring to John Lewis’s experiences implementing new IT systems since 2014, Mayfield said: ‘I have the scars on my back from a well-resourced business that has found tech adoption difficult. It costs a lot, took longer than planned and at the end of it all the benefits weren’t quite as clear as they were at the beginning.’
‘But I’ve no doubt we did the right thing. If we hadn’t, the business would be in a far worse position than if it hadn’t,’ added Mayfield, who left John Lewis earlier this year.
He said Be The Business was piloting ‘tech adoption labs’ across the country and large companies had offered ‘chief technology officers on demand’ to help firms cope.
‘We’ve got the template, we’ve got the playbook, we’ve got Britain’s best businesses and access to expertise – Cisco, Openreach, Amazon, Google. We are asking the Government to make this a priority for rebuilding the UK.’
He added: ‘Eat Out to Help Out has had a pretty dramatic impact on restaurants. What we need is a similar message for business leaders, something along the lines of ‘Tech Up to Grow Out’. It should become a fundamental part of the recovery.’
HOW DO GOVERNMENTS AND BUSINESSES ENSURE BOUNCE-BACK CONTINUES?
By Andy Haldane, chair of the Industrial Strategy Council, and Sir Charlie Mayfield, chair of Be The Business
UK GDP had, by July, recovered around half of its Covid-related losses, rebounding further and faster than anyone expected. That’s the good news. The bad is that the economy remains 12 per cent smaller than at the start of the year. So how do Governments and businesses ensure this bounce-back continues and that the opportunities, as well as the obvious challenges, of Covid are seized?
A large part of the answer lies in improving levels of technology adoption among businesses. While the UK plays a leading role in developing new technology and innovation, it is a laggard when it comes to its wider adoption across companies. That is particularly true among the smaller and mid-sized businesses which employ nearly two thirds of people working in the UK. This explains why, despite rapid innovation, aggregate productivity among UK companies has flat-lined for more than a decade.
Yet, for all its challenges, Covid has shown what is possible on this front. With their normal business models disrupted so significantly, rapid and radical technological adoption has been essential to the survival of many firms. Even among the more mature aspects of technology, such as e-commerce, the pace of adoption has been rapid. Data from Be the Business shows tech adoption was four times faster during the crisis than the whole of 2019.
It is good news that many more businesses now have the appetite and experience to upgrade their technologies. The less good news is that many of the barriers to that wider adoption are long-standing and remain deep-seated. Understanding those barriers, and removing them, is crucial if the benefits of technology – for productivity, skills and jobs across every region – are to be unleashed.
Be the Business, with support from McKinsey, has just completed the largest-ever study of these barriers and opportunities to widespread adoption of technologies. Some of these blockages sit in firms themselves, through a lack of information or appetite for change. Others exist among the suppliers of technology, in particular to smaller companies. Both the demand and supply sides need fixing, at source and at speed, if the opportunity is to be seized.
To do so, we believe three things are essential.
First, businesses need access to independent advice and resources to guide them towards the right technology choices. At present, in particular for smaller companies, this is daunting. There are mountains of information and training available on how to use specific software and tools. But there is no one-stop-shop for this information and no clear guidance to help businesses understand what kit would best meet their needs – until now.
On the new website, Be the Business Digital, businesses have all the answers they need. It is full of real world experience of business leaders who have learnt the hard way about tech adoption – where they went wrong, why they persevered, and what it did for their businesses. It’s constantly being updated and developed, providing a guide to the many business leaders up and down the country who know they need more tech but aren’t sure where to start.
Second, business leaders themselves need access to expertise and training. Only big firms have Chief Technology Officers. Most businesses can’t afford them and nor can they afford the fees of professional service firms who might fill the gap. We need, in every region and major town or city, a place where businesses can come for help when they need it – local hubs for business support. This should not just be government provided support. The private sector must play a role here. More than 100 of the UK’s best firms, including our best tech companies, have already committed to supporting Be the Business’ efforts.
Finally, there is the role of policy. Technology adoption needs to be at the heart of industrial policy. Levelling-up the UK’s companies, through improved tech adoption, is an essential element of levelling-up our regions. That means creating incentives for companies to make the right investment choices – for example, with a level playing field between investing in machinery versus software.
It also means making it easier for businesses to access finance to fund this investment. The UK has led the world with its Open Banking initiative to make personal bank account data portable, enabling people to switch their accounts cheaply and easily to improve innovation and competition. There is a strong case for doing the same with business data, making this fully portable and thereby enabling companies to switch vendors easily and cheaply to unleash finance and innovation.
The Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Solow famously asked: if technology is so ubiquitous, why doesn’t it show up in productivity statistics? We now know why: much of that technology simply isn’t found in many British businesses. Now is the time to technologically upgrade our businesses and our economy, building back not just better, but faster and smarter.
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Rolls-Royce set to tap investors for £2.5bn cash boost
Rolls-Royce is on the cusp of launching an emergency fundraising to tap shareholders for between £2billion and £2.5billion.
City sources said the FTSE100-listed jet engine maker is close to securing the funds from investors, possibly through a rights issue and placing.
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are believed to be among the investment banks working on the fundraising deal for Rolls-Royce.
Emergency: City sources said the FTSE100-listed jet engine maker is close to securing the funds from investors
It had been thought Rolls-Royce may look to raise £1.5billion from investors. But sources claimed the blue chip firm is now seeking an extra £500million to £1billion, possibly from sovereign wealth funds.
The move to launch such a large rescue fundraising comes as Rolls-Royce shares – which closed last week at £1.80 – flirt with a 16-year low amid concerns about the company’s financial position.
Investment bankers last month told The Mail on Sunday that they had heard rumours the Government was ‘starting to get worried’, raising the possibility of state intervention.
Rolls-Royce – in which the Government has a ‘golden share’ that gives it the right to block a takeover – has been hit hard by the pandemic. In part that has been because the company operates a power-by-the hour model, where it sells engines at a loss and later receives payments according to how much they fly. This arrangement has left the company bleeding cash.
The firm is also particularly exposed to the collapse in long-haul travel because it makes engines for bigger planes such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and Airbus’s A350.
Rolls-Royce’s debt has been downgraded to junk status and major long-term shareholders, such as American activist ValueAct Capital, have been selling out of the company.
In a note to clients several weeks ago, David Perry, an analyst at JP Morgan, said: ‘An £8billion hole will need much more than a £1.5billion rights issue. We believe RollsRoyce needs to raise at least £6billion [through equity raise sales and disposals] to put itself on a sound financial footing.’
Perry added that the company’s debt pile will be almost £19billion by the end of the year. He believes that £1.5billion may not be enough to save the firm.
The analyst suggested that Rolls-Royce needs to issue £6billion of equity and this might not be possible by just relying on institutional investors. ‘We think there is a high chance of Government intervention,’ he added.
Aside from tapping stock market investors for fresh cash, Rolls-Royce is also seeking to generate about £2billion from selling divisions – including ITP Aero – over the next 18 months.
ITP Aero is Rolls-Royce’s Spanish engineering division that makes turbine blades for engines.
A spokesman for Rolls-Royce said: ‘We continue to review a range of funding options to further strengthen our balance sheet.
‘These could include debt and equity, but no final decisions have been taken. We have already taken swift action to strengthen our liquidity with £6.1billion at the end of the first half of the year and a further £2billion term loan agreed in the second half.
‘We have also announced £1billion of cost mitigation activity in 2020 and launched a re-organisation of our Civil Aerospace business to save £1.3billion annually.’
Last month, the firm’s woes were compounded by the announcement that finance chief Stephen Daintith was leaving the business for online delivery firm Ocado.
Daintith has said he will stay for a transition period.
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Casino boss: 10pm curfew will hit night-time industries
The boss of Britain’s biggest casino complex has warned that a 10pm curfew would be ‘disastrous’ for night-time industries.
Simon Thomas, chief executive of the Hippodrome in London’s West End, said casinos make half their revenue after 10pm, and a national curfew would force him to make ‘substantial redundancies’ among his 700 staff.
He already expects to make a ‘significant loss’ this year, after losing £1million a month during the five months the business was closed, and said the situation remains ‘fragile’.
Losing streak: Visitor numbers are down 80 per cent at the Hippodrome
Visitor numbers are down by about 80 per cent since the Hippodrome reopened last month.
‘The curfew poses an existential threat to theatres, hotels, bars and clubs,’ said Thomas.
‘It is an unnecessary over-reaction to Covid and it would be a disaster for London.’
Thomas owns about half of the Hippodrome, which has casinos, restaurants and bars on six floors of a 19th Century former music hall and circus. His 86-year-old father Jimmy owns 20 per cent.
He said he had worked hard to make the casinos safe, with gaming positions separated by flexi-glass walls, and the 80,000 sq ft premises prepared to receive just 400 people, down from 1,600.
He has raised £10million of Government loans and bank debt. A consultation on redundancies has started, but the number of job cuts has not been confirmed while 300 staff remain on furlough.
Thomas said: ‘It’s frustrating as the core business is excellent – the building is beautiful and a huge asset to London. We are very happy to pay tax, to provide jobs and entertain people – but we have to be allowed to do it.’
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