Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure

Cotswold hospitality businesses don’t like everything on Chancellor’s menu of measures

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 13 July 2020 7:15

Cotswold hospitality businesses don’t like everything on Chancellor’s menu of measures

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s promise of money-off vouchers for restaurant bills in August and VAT cuts from 20 per cent to five have been will not help some hard-hit businesses. 

That is the message from some in the Cotswold hospitality trade left welcoming what he has given, but wondering how the many who will not benefit will cope. 

Vouchers to allow £10 off per person per meal through August on food and non-alcoholic drinks will be available to be used from Mondays to Wednesdays. 

But the VAT cuts do nothing for those who rely almost wholly on the wet-trade (alcohol to you and I), who are left out of the measures.

“Because of this it’s not accessible to all hospitality as wet-led pubs will not see the benefit; many of those are on the edge of bankruptcy,” said Mark Lindesay, landlord of the Cirencester Golden Cross Inn. 

“We are a family pub and so food is a large part of our business, especially at weekends but this scheme is open earlier in the week. 

“We are of course open to the idea and welcome anything at the moment to get the market moving again.” 

Rachel Wright, is the director of Teatro Restaurant & Bar in Cirencester and can see how this might benefit the business. 

“It was a good announcement. We were expecting something along the lines of the VAT reduction but were surprised about the introduction of the vouchers,” she said.

Read more: Hospitality hopes there is another round to come yet from the Chancellor.

“We will be registering and intend to incorporate this into our offering. We are also looking to do something for NHS workers who dine with us. 

“We have a large outdoor space that we would like to see full of friends and families again, all enjoying our great food and each other's company again, after all, is that not what all this is about, bringing us out of lockdown and into society. 

“We opened last weekend and everyone seemed happy to be out again We look forward to welcoming more people through the gates as we look to possible extending our opening hours”. 

The Treasury said the 50 per cent discount can be used unlimited times during August and applies to participating restaurants, cafés, and pubs across the UK. 

Businesses that want to take part in the scheme will have to register through a website that opens on Monday 13 July. 

The lower tax rate will be implemented next Wednesday, July 15, and will remain in place until January 12, 2021. 

George Arkell, a director of Arkell’s Brewery, which owns and runs pubs across the Cotswolds, including Cheltenham, Lechlade, Cirencester and Oxford, broadly welcomed the news. 

“It is great news that the Government have announced such a comprehensive support package to the hospitality trade. We have been working extremely hard over the past month to get all of our pubs ready to open and as safe as possible,” said Mr Arkell. 

“With Rishi’s meal-deal in August and the reduction in VAT beginning next week we are looking forward to welcoming our customers back to our pubs.” 

Jak Doggett and his business partner Sam Edwards run The Firehouse at Upton Smokery. The business that was a barbeque buffet has had to alter its hours and go to plated dishes. 

“We were only open on Wednesday’s for a pizza night and the weekend, Saturday and Sunday,” said Mr Doggett. 

“We had taken the decision to open Wednesday to Sunday for breakfast and lunch so when we heard the news we thought it was great as we can get involved in the scheme.” 

Mr Edwards added: “We have always been used to getting a lot of families and small groups since we took over in March 2019 so the idea will support our regulars.”