Over the past 24 hours the Government has announced two key strategies that will affect our sector; The Hospitality Recovery Strategy and The High Streets Strategy which lays out the Government’s plans for our post- covid economic recovery.
Over the next few weeks, the Government will put meat on the bone with these strategies however, the direction of movement is positive for all independent hospitality businesses including, restaurants, bars, and mobile caterers.
We needed a policy or policies centered around flexibility and al fresco, that specifically enabled mobile catering to take part, and this is what we got. Many NCASS members with fixed site businesses were able to take advantage of the pavement licence easements last year and the extra capacity and safety offered by outdoor dining has meant these establishments could operate at a level closer to profitability. Greater use of these opportunities as well as pop up dining areas in car parks and on unused land mean that you don’t need to have easily transferrable pavement outside your establishment to benefit from the easements.
These benefits must also be made available to mobile catering and street food which is something NCASS will continue to push for this on behalf of members. In a year when festivals have been so affected and remain risky, joining the al fresco revolution may be a safer bet for many. However, we cannot have a second year where the only businesses not allowed to sell food on the streets are street food businesses. This said, recent statements around flexibility and further licence easements are a positive sign.
In fact, it states in the Hospitality Strategy that ‘We will also encourage the use of high street spaces for hospitality, creating new opportunities for micro businesses and start-ups that will re-energise and revitalise unloved spaces, working with local people to unlock their talents and creating a new generation of hospitality entrepreneurs. Specifically, the High Streets Strategy sets out how we will work with Local Authorities and the hospitality sector to develop a model for hospitality-led regeneration hubs, with demonstrators delivered in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.’
Allowing pubs to move to off-sale and businesses generally to be more flexible to be able to react to major events such as a pandemic – building in resilience against future shocks. Furthermore, the easements to allow markets, street events and stalls have been re-iterated and written into policy. Now is the time to speak to your local authority about street trading – and not old school, expensive and inflexible licensing!
Much of todays announcements on the High Street & Hospitality Strategies was around re-energising and revitalising high streets and city centres by adapting to the shifting and uncertain economy….and pumping in money. NCASS have been arguing that we have a huge amount of untapped talent in the UK. That indie hospitality businesses bring character and innovative, are agile and adaptable. This is why we were delighted to see both policies commit to working with industry to develop this spirit of food entrepreneurship and to facilitate the businesses that will define the next decade of hospitality – businesses like NCASS members.
Finally, we needed dedicated support for our sector and the announcement that Minister, Paul Scully MP will lead the hospitality recovery is good news for independent food businesses. NCASS have met with Minister Scully pretty much weekly throughout the pandemic and while he has not always been able to deliver on our asks for members, he has certainly been an advocate and supporter of the hospitality sector. Mark from NCASS has certainly held Minister Scully’s feet to the fire on more than one occasion – the relationships and understanding he has developed through the pandemic will be vital as he begins this daunting task.
Although NCASS have worked with BEIS for many years now as part of our Primary Authority partnership, for the past 18 months the Hospitality taskforce and civil servants within BEIS have become part of our day to day when it comes to protecting and supporting the independent hospitality and develop ways through for members. The announcement of a ‘build back better’ strategy, safety guidance and of course re-opening are all reasons to be positive as we come through this incredibly challenging situation.
We will, as always, update you as the work on putting these strategies in to practice begins, keeping you updated on what this means for you and your business.
To read the Hospitality strategy click here
To read the Highstreets strategy click here