Industry responds to Chancellor’s latest support package

Published 23 October 2020

by Harriet Prior

After weeks of pressure from the industry, Rishi Sunak yesterday announced an additional support package for hospitality businesses impacted by coronavirus. Sunak claimed the impact of restrictions on businesses had exceeded what had been anticipated, going on to announce enhanced wage support, grants and additional funds for the self-employed.

First up, Sunak said that the grant system previously available to those under tier 3 restrictions will now be available to those under tier 1 and 2. Cash grants of up to £2,100 a month can be claimed by businesses which aren’t forced to close, but are operating at reduced capacity and trade due to coronavirus. The grants will be backdated to August.

Additionally, the chancellor lowered the percentage of contracted hours an employee needs to work to be eligible for the Job Support Scheme from 33% to 20%, whilst the employer’s contribution to hours not worked will reduce from 33 to five percent.

Some of the biggest names in hospitality have responded to the news in very different ways. Some hopeful, many angry. Kate Nicholls of UK Hospitality tweeted “huge and welcome intervention by Chancellor – JSS scheme evolves significantly to reflect changed circumstances. Just saved thousands of jobs in hospitality and supply chain”, with Jack Stein similarly positive: “I welcome the news of the grant, especially for those in cities like Manchester and London who are being particularly hard hit by tier 2 restrictions.”

However, many in the industry were keen to emphasise a lot of work is still to be done. Top Cuvée’s Brodie Meah comments “support is good but now we need a plan to rebuild consumer confidence so we can continue long term. Either it’s safe to go to a restaurant or it’s not.”

Others expressed overwhelming anger, including chef patron of Cornerstone Tom Brown: “It’s genuinely insulting. £500 a week is nothing, for us that’s around 7/8 customers worth of takings – this week alone we had 100 cancellations. It’s like they’ve taken all the food off the table and thrown us a scrap whilst expecting us to be grateful.” Similarly, chairman of D&D London Des Gunewardena says “the whole thing is a complete nightmare for companies and staff.”

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