Our aim since the pandemic started has been to get NCASS members trading through this crisis
What began as a virus on the other side of the world quickly descended into a global health and economic meltdown. A disease spread by human contact meant that non-vital contact and socialising would be intermittently banned or restricted. Our industry, entirely dependent on socialising would be devastated in a matter of weeks. For a brief moment it seemed that the government understood, that those most affected would receive support but for the most part, this did not happen and so our collective fight began.
The Primary Authority scheme, which all NCASS members are part of, is run by the department of Business, Energy & Industrial strategy (BEIS) and as such, we are always in regular contact with civil servants from the department (and other departments such as the FSA) on a number of issues that are likely to impact you, our members.
Primary Authority and our relationship with BEIS is why we are able to represent you and the wider independent sector at Government level and why we are part of the Government’s Hospitality Taskforce, working with other associations and industry figures to share your experiences and lobby for change.
As you will have seen, we haven’t stopped campaigning, creating resources to support you, getting information, advice & guidance to you via our website, mailers and webinars and of course, your account managers being on hand whenever you need us.
Lobbying for the industry and working with others to achieve common goals is something that we have always done. The #SupportOurSector campaign emerged from the failure of the governments hospitality support package to actually support so many independent food & drink businesses. Hardest hit were the seasonal businesses with the cancellation of all public events, shows and festivals in the public sphere, as well as corporate events and private functions. A significant number of our customers missed out due to being self-employed company directors or not having a rateable business.
The campaign involved a customer survey, an email to MP’s campaign and a petition in addition to a number of press engagements to get the message across. Over a dozen members letters were handed to the treasury by MPs and the mobile catering sector had a number of questions raised in Parliament.
We argued for the ability for mobile caterers to trade and support the NHS staff directly with hot or cold food and managed to get NCASS onto the NHS procurement list so that they could do this.
A support document for the government and local authorities on outside trading to enable mobile caterers to take part in the pavement licencing but also to ensure restaurants cooking outside did so safely was created using our insights.
We have and are still attending weekly meetings with the minister for small business Paul Scully MP, as part of our role representing the indie food sector for the Governments Hospitality taskforce. Many of the specific questions that members have raised have been fed straight into the task force.
Our role within the Events Industry Forum, has enabled us to join their campaign for support for the entire events ecosystem, however the government have not delivered on hospitality or events grants for many in our sector and this is something we are still working on resolving. We were able to get some street trading changes and hope to provide greater clarity on that very soon.
As well as this, we have argued on behalf of fixed brick & mortar businesses to ensure that Covid-19 measures were achievable and have pushed back on unhelpful measures such as the 10pm curfew, the 2 metre rule, mobile trading and how Local Authorities should approach this in light of the changes to licensing & planning regulations.
In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to do all that we can to lobby on behalf of NCASS members and the eco systems in which they operate, supporting the independent catering sector, the innovative restaurants and bars, cafes, mobiles, festival event caterers that make NCASS what it is.
We need you to get involved and to give us the info we need to make your case. With your help, the independent hospitality sector can rebound from yet another snub from the treasury, your voice will be heard, your plight recognised, and your points made. But for real impact we need as many NCASS members and others feeding in the details of the problems that you face and the solutions that you need.
Please fill in any future surveys, sign the petitions and get others to do the same, write to your MP, volunteer to be a case study or ‘go on the news’ and read the NCASS emails, we are involved in a major events campaign One Industry One Voice – so get involved in that too. Make some noise, share on socials and, do what you can support our sector alongside us.
Whilst we are sat at home, there are teams of people making sure there is work for us all to go back to. A massive shout out to NCASS (Nationwide Caterers Association) who have been working tirelessly, to support our industry.
We wanted to express our thanks to you all for your continued support to our Business throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, it has felt at times that you have been the only ones who truly understand our position as Mobile Caterers and you have helped us feel less alone throughout this all.
– Georgina & Justin – The Hungry Plaice
Voices of Hope would like to say a massive ‘thank you’ to @ncass_uk for the help & support in setting up the Kingston FoodHub. With their advice, assistance and guidance our kitchen/pre area has enabled us to cook over 23,000 meals for our community during lockdown. #ncass #Ncassmember #supportlocal #communityproject #kingstonfoodhub
– Voices of Hope & Kingston FoodHub
Recent events affecting the mobile catering trade have been a worry for all yet NCASS are there fighting our corner and keeping us updated regularly throughout the day. Thank you guys x
– Mr Ken’s
Feast are proud to announce we will be supplying our healthy and nutritious chargrilled wraps to the wonderful nurses and doctors of the @nhsenglandldn . We will be freshly making up to 200 meals a day to help feed these hardworking folk during this difficult period. We will be working with @woburncf to ensure our food is label compliant and delivered fresh in refrigerated vehicles. A huge thank you to our friends @ncass_uk for their hard work in supporting us during this time.
Thanks for all the help- my business, Bon Vivant has recently received some fantastic advice and support from the NCASS team. Our membership is worth its weight in gold, especially during this difficult time!
– Sarah from Bon Vivant
Our Response to the First Pandemic Measures
- Kicked off the #SupportOurSector campaign
- Wrote to the government calling on support for the independent & mobile catering sector
- Created a template for our members to send to their MPs
- Put out an industry survey – enabling us to lobby the government on your behalf
- Petitioned the government demanding better support for the mobile catering sector
- Launched the coronavirus hub
- Advice on online ordering systems, along with member discounts
- Put together a Business Survival Strategy
- Created a Response Pack filled with solutions, support and guidance for you and your business, including Risk Assessments and budget sheets.
We got through to parliament!
Wendy Chamberlain, MP for North East Fife addressed Members of Parliament regarding a constituent who operates a mobile catering business.
She outlined the issues faced by those in the mobile catering and events industries in light of the COVID-19 outbreak; requesting extra measures be announced urgently to protect these businesses, which were excluded from the support introduced for fixed site businesses.
This recognition & call to action from an MP was all thanks to you downloading our template letter and taking the time to sign and send to your MPs – requesting support not just for your own businesses, but for the industry as a whole.
- We launched NCASS Live! This allowed us to reach a wider audience, allowing members to share their stories, as well as putting out advice & guidance with guests such as The Catering Accounting Company‘s Andrew James who guided us through the financial support available during the pandemic.
- We put out a second survey to demonstrate to the government that mobile catering businesses who had diversified were facing difficulties re: street trading regulations and licensing.
- We raised our concerns for the catering industry in the press including the results of our first survey
- Offered financial advice around income support
- Created a COVID-19 Compliance pack
- Raised concerns around the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme not going far enough
As soon as the budget was announced we began working to create work opportunities for our members across the UK who didn’t benefit from the Self-Employed Income Support Measures. This included opportunities to cater for key workers, including the Meals for the NHS initiative.
Last night we dropped to a trust in Walsall and the Heartlands again. The smiles on people’s faces when food arrives is heartwarming. Thankyou @mealsforthenhs and @ncass_uk for the opportunity of being able to help the only way we can.
– Full of Chaat, 12/04/20Read more
- We created a comprehensive guidance document alongside Alongside Senior EHO, Jenny Morris MBE, to enable our members to adapt their business to a delivery, takeaway or click and collect model
- We launched NCASS Rewards deals with online ordering systems Slerp, Hungrrr & Flipdish
- Our online ordering systems webinar walked through what catering businesses should look for when deciding which platform to use; including key features, pricing and support
- Put out information on grants, support for the self-employed and insolvency legislation
- We shared the stories of those who had pivoted to a delivery/takeaway/click & collect model and invited members onto a webinar where they discussed what they’d been doing to keep their businesses going through covid-19
- Worked in consultation with street food markets on opportunities to start trading again, including street food click & collect
Street Food Goes Click & Collect
May was the formal launch of the Digbeth Dining Club Click + Collect service; a concept developed with NCASS to enable food businesses to trade safely during Covid-19.
The team at DDC had been working in consultation with NCASS to find additional ways for independent food businesses to start trading again. A light bulb moment for a concept around ‘drive through’ street food led to DDC’s brand new venture for the city.
Read the DDC case study
“The NCASS team have been working to find new ways to get traders back to work, we’re hoping that the click and collect concept will be a huge success and that we are able to share this blueprint with organisers and traders across the country.
- The final opportunity for people to donate to Meals for the NHS! We saw the incredible work that many of our own members put into delivering hot meals to frontline workers and the positive impact it had on them to be able to contribute to their communities during the pandemic. We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who got involved in the scheme!
- Following the news of the government planning to ease lockdown restrictions, we released a new editable risk assessment for members and walked through it in our first members-only webinar with Jenny Morris (MBE).
- We partnered up with Inn Confidence to deliver a webinar on alcohol licensing after many members enquired about alcohol sales
Advice from The Experts
In our first members-only webinar, Jenny spoke of the importance of updating risk assessments:
“It needs to be fit for purpose. EHOs may ask you about what’s in the Risk Assessment and if you can’t explain it, or your staff can’t explain it, you’re essentially failing. It’s there to protect you as a business owner, your staff your and customers. We’ve made it as simple as possible to complete.”
– Jenny Morris MBE – Practitioner of Environmental HealthWatch
July 2020 – Reopening
- NCASS contributed to the reopening guidance from BEIS
- We adapted the FSA’s reopening checklist for our members and gathered our experts for our Hospitality Reset: Reopening Safely webinar to discuss the guidance and practicalities around reopening safely.
- Addressed the Hospitality VAT cut in our webinar with The Catering Accounting Company
- Raised the issue around the VAT cut & event caterers in This Is Money – calling on the government to take decisive action
- Fed your member experiences of recovering/adapting your business to the FSA
- Came together with other event organisations and businesses for the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign, raising the profile of a summer without shows and the crisis faced by the live music sector.
- After ongoing lobbying alongside Event Industry bodies, guidance was released by DCMS stating that from the 11th of July performances outdoors with a socially distanced audience could take place in England in-line with the guidance.
Measures to Support Mobile Caterers
On July 9th we received confirmation from Paul Scully (the Minister for Small Businesses, Consumers & Labour Markets) that changes to the Town & Country Planning Act were intended to support the return of the mobile catering industry specifically.
NCASS had asked for change to planning that would enable members to be a part of ‘Al Fresco Britain’ the government initiative to move the high street outside. This latest action of support from the Minister was sent to confirm the intent of the changes and to urge local authorities to enable businesses to trade with more flexibility and that opportunities to trade are supported.
These measures make it easier for businesses and local authorities to set up and run markets and provide food safely from public and private space.Read Paul's letter
- Our guidance ‘Covid-19: Mobile Caterers & Street Trading’ was published via the Local Government Association
- Continued to work alongside other associations, businesses, event professionals and organisations to raise the profile of the events sector and the support it needs to survive the Covid-19 crisis through actions such as #LightItInRed
- New NCASS Rewards Partnership with Too Good To Go – helping tackle food waste
- We launched our COVID-19 Safety Certification and Training course, which we developed alongside industry professionals
NCASS in The News
BBC Midlands Today
NCASS Director Mark Laurie was interviewed on BBC Midlands Today about the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality/catering industry.
He raised the issue of rent, the large number of businesses falling through the net in terms of funding, pivoting to a delivery, collection or takeaway model and the measures the government need to take to support the hospitality industry.Watch
- We teamed up with our primary partners, The Royal Borough of Greenwich & the FSA for our webinar on keeping your business safe & legal during difficult times
- Released a Track & Trace form for members in response to the government making it a legal requirement for hospitality businesses to request customer contact details in England.
- Put out clarification & advice re: the updates to the Government guidance Working Safely During Coronavirus
- Raised our concerns for the hospitality sector in the press
- Released a new survey to caterers in order to present a clearer picture of the impact of Covid-19 on the catering industry to the government
Opinion Piece – Mark Laurie
Same Storm, Different Boats
NCASS Director Mark Laurie examines the effects that Covid-19 has played on the catering and events industry in this opinion piece, telling us how the “sands are shifting” for those who learn to embrace the storm and to adapt to the new reality we find ourselves in.
The UK’s independent caterers are some of the most innovative, exciting and hardworking people in hospitality, in order to adapt to this new reality they will need Local Authorities to adapt their approach to one that reflects current needs and solutions not pre-Covid solutions.
October 2020 – Tiers
- Released a new track & trace flowchart document to help support you in decision making when it comes to Covid-19 & your staff
- Put out advice around collaboration between caterers, pubs & bars as a solution to trading under the tiered system
- Raised concerns to the government following the chancellor’s announcement re: financial support for mobile & event caterers
- “New Rules” webinar addressed the additional government measures brought in relating to our sector.
- Made a plea to government for a period of targeted financial support alongside other organisations with the Events Industry Forum and promoted the One Industry One Voice initiative
- Talked licensing and street trading regulations with Philip Day from Laceys Solicitors in our live webinar
- Launch of the DreaMM opportunity with Mercato Metropolitano
Advice & Opportunities
One of our most popular articles of 2020, this piece explores the options for caterers in the different tiers as well as ideas/ inspiration including advice around:
- Delivery and/or collections
- Taking your business outside
- Trading on private land such as pubs, car parks, green spaces, trading estates, etc.
- Marketing and the importance of social media
- Planning ahead for the new year & beyond
- Inspiration from some of our members who have adapted their business model
As we will inevitably see more changes over the coming months, we need to work together, share examples of smart ideas that you, our members, are delivering right now. If would like us to promote what you are doing and inspire other businesses, please get in touch.Read more
November 2020 – Lockdown 2
- We teamed up with our Primary Authority partners, The Royal Borough of Greenwich for a webinar to answer your lockdown questions
- Advice on how to adapt your business through Lockdown 2.0 in England.
- Put out information on financial support available, including the Additional Restrictions Grant for businesses without a fixes premises.
- We hosted a webinar around Financial Support Updates with The Catering Accounting Company
- Released Guidance around what the different tiers in England mean for the live events industry
- Signposted to indie directories around the UK
- We released guidance on how to start a food business from home for people looking for opportunities to earn extra income
News for Wet-led Pubs & Bars
We had confirmation from the C-19 taskforce, part of the cabinet office that:
- Wet led pubs or bars can subcontract their meal offering to a caterer – mobile or otherwise in order to provide a substantial meal
- Caterers can also operate as a takeaway from these premises
- Importantly, the pub or bar must take responsibility for the payments of both food & drink
With this news, we launched a Find a Caterer service for wet-led pub or bars, providing a solution for them to offer meals & keep trading under the tiered system.Find out more
- Got your feedback on & responded to the Government consultation on an advertising ban on unhealthy food images (High Fat Sugar Salt) that would affect indie food businesses who primarily advertise on social media.
- Responded to the Government consultation on the festival sector in 2021
- Contributed to the DCMS advice on running outdoor events and festivals safely
- Continued to share and advise on the latest guidance from the government for our members.
Continued to lobby Government and Local Authorities on the changes needed across street licensing regulations
Opinion Piece – Mark Laurie
This year has been hard for a number of quite obvious reasons; the pandemic, the closure of events and hospitality for the majority of the season, but arguably the hardest part has been the feelings of frustration, helplessness and anger when our sector has repeatedly missed out on government support.
In his latest piece, Mark Laurie looks back on what has been a challenging year for our industry and turns his attention to the new year and moving forward.Read more