The Chancellor today laid out plans to protect jobs and businesses in light of what the IMF (The International Monetary Fund) had warned could be the worst global depression in history. He announced the measures several months before the budget, in recognition of the timely need for intervention from government to protect jobs and businesses.
The independent hospitality sector will be able to benefit from several of the measures, VAT reduced to 5% for eat in or takeaway food for the next six months and a voucher scheme for everyone in the UK to get £10 off a food bill from a hospitality business in August.
Measures were also introduced to reward employers who bring back staff from furlough with a £1,000 per staff member bonus for businesses and, in addition, support for the unemployed and those leaving education.
The biggest win for our sector is likely to be the VAT rate, however, the measures offered little in terms of job retention beyond October for businesses who are still unable to trade. For this reason it is imperative that the Government recognise the need for the whole of our sector including mobile caterers to get back to work as soon as possible but also the assistance of local authorities in delivering it. Inclusion in the pavement regulations to allow mobile caterers to trade from private land, for example, would give this part of our sector the same opportunities as other hospitality businesses.
For those who are able to trade, the measures will hopefully offer a lifeline to their businesses. The VAT reduction will be most welcome by most if not all as well as the opportunity to benefit from the meal discount scheme in August. Even with this, further sectoral support for hospitality will almost certainly be required to prevent mass business closures and unemployment in the sector. These measures, alongside the changes to the Town & Country planning regulations as well as the Business & Planning Bill will give the hospitality sector a fighting chance, although many would have hoped that the Chancellor would have gone further today.
It should not go unnoticed that the government support for the economy has been unprecedented since the pandemic hit and NCASS hope that these measures together will be enough to keep our sector working towards profitability again. It is, however, imperative that the Government recognise the need for all parts of the hospitality industry to get back to work as soon as possible and that we also need the assistance of local authorities in delivering that on the ground.
We also need confirmation that festivals and outdoor events are included in the culture grants announced and that its contribution to tourism, culture and the economy is duly recognised.