Ahead of next week’s budget, a number of top chefs have called on Rishi Sunak to do more to protect the ailing hospitality industry, as part of a social media campaign asking the Chancellor to #SaveHospitalityRishi.
HospoDemo – the group who last October organised demonstrations outside Parliament, protesting curfew and other Tier 2 restrictions – are hoping that the campaign will help swing Mr Sunak’s budget to favourably support restaurants, pubs, bars and hotels.
Writing on Instagram, founder Rachel Harty called on the Chancellor to extend the VAT reduction, furlough scheme, business rates holiday and the rent moratorium until the end of the next financial year. Harty also asked for a commitment from the Government to repeat the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, once it would be safe to do so.
Among those to join in so far are Jason Atherton, José Pizarro, Duke’s bartender Alessandro Palazzi, Drapers Arms’ man Nick Gibson and Chantelle Nicholson of Tredwell’s.
“Our industry for the last 12 months – and I know you understand this – has been absolutely decimated. We’ve done our bit, we’ve stayed at home, we’ve opened and closed as you have asked us to do, we’ve kept customers safe, we’ve done PPE, we’ve helped the NHS. Many, many chefs, restaurants, hotels, across our beautiful land have done their bit,” said Atherton in his video, “Now it’s your turn.
“I know you understand. I know how difficult your job is, but please find it in your heart to help our industry get back on its feet. We have done such a great job of making Britain great, through food,” he continued, before repeating the call to extend the VAT and business rate cuts, and for flexi-furlough to continue.
“Please help us,” said Pizarro, “You know what you have to do to save hospitality. The hospitality industry is in danger and so many, so many people are going to be without a job.”
“Personally, I would ask you please, can we look at some guidelines for landlord-tenant discussions, negotiations on rent payments for the period that we have been forced to be closed,” added Sam Harrison, of Sam’s Riverside, “I personally believe that the fairest way would be a ‘turnover rent’ during this closed period because we have been able to do some takeaway, delivery. I believe that’s what many other countries have moved towards.”
Like others, Harrison praised the Chancellor’s help so far, but called on him to go further.
“What you’ve done with furlough, what the Government has done has been incredible. But what would be the point of all of that money spent on furlough if businesses like mine aren’t able to reopen? Or, even if they are able to reopen, not able to survive?”
To be involved with the campaign, users should tell the Chancellor what they want from the budget, tag him using @RishiSunakMP and use the hashtag #SaveHospitalityRishi.
One chef yet to upload a post is Gordon Ramsay, who last week sat down with Mr Sunak for a recorded Zoom call in which the two men discussed the needs of the industry. The call, while dry enough itself, provoked outrage among in the industry who claimed chef Ramsay was too out of touch with smaller businesses and too financially insulated to properly address the concerns of those most affected by the pandemic.