Boris Johnson’s roadmap on Monday may not have contained many surprises, but the timelines are not what many had hoped for.
Restaurateurs have told us, it does at least provide a framework around their planning to reopen, but the concern for many is cash flow.
All are now eagerly waiting on the chancellor next Wednesday, to deliver further extended and increased fiscal and financial support. This is vital to enable viable and thriving businesses prior to the pandemic, to enter and exit the roadmap period successfully.
Adam Handling, Chef/Owner, Adam Handling Restaurant Group had quite a bit to say when we spoke: “It’s all well and good that we’ve got a roadmap set out of when we might be able to start properly trading again but without a clear understanding of what support will be offered in the meantime, it feels like we are back to square one and that uncertainty we had to deal with in March 2020.
“Will furlough be extended?
“Will the 5% VAT be extended?
“Will the business rates holiday be extended?
“These are all questions that we should have been given the answers to, and these are all questions that just cause even more uncertainty and concern for an industry that’s been incredibly resilient throughout.
“Give us answers, Boris, not more bloody questions.”
Restaurateur and Chef, Cyrus Todiwala OBE was clear about what he feels is now needed, telling us: “The most important thing is for the Chancellor to now support the industry in light of the roadmap.
“By this I mean not just the employees, but the businesses that employ them.
“Where there is barely any trade if none at all, where do businesses get the money to pay National Insurance contributions, pensions, rent – it is these expenses and obligations that are suffocating us.
“Clearly keeping VAT down will help. Many of us of course understand the pressure on government coffers, but the hospitality industry is one of the engines of economic growth and social cohesion, and it is in the country’s best interests that businesses have the chance to survive and flourish again.”
Managing Director of The Asian Restaurant Owners Network, and Head Chef and owner of the Bombay Express restaurant in Torquay, Rehan Uddin as always was measured in his thoughts. Uddin was also balanced in reflecting them saying: “The road map released by the PM is a realistic approach to getting the hospitality industry back open again safely and with the economy in mind.
“We need to be open and trading and cannot afford to close again, making sure this is the last time that we have to close is so vital to our local and national economy.
“Having date to work to allows us to have a renewed sense of hope and ambition. A tough call to make by the PM and not everyone will be happy. I think the roadmap is a sensible approach to getting the UK back on its feet again.
Of course this relies on the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to back that up with zero business rates, 5% vat for hospitality and furlough to continue this year. We do not expect furlough to continue forever but we do require it until at least February next year even if it is in a reduced format on a reviewed basis.”
We have also in recent days spoken on the same subject with a number of industry leaders in catering and in hotels across the UK. Collectively they manage businesses that generate billions of pounds in revenues, and generate millions in taxes for the UK economy. Unanimously they are all calling on the chancellor for one thing, to create a budget that delivers them through the roadmap process and timelines.
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Hospitality & Catering News: Chefs and Restaurateurs’ react to roadmap. – 24 February 2021 – Chefs and Restaurateurs’ react to roadmap.
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