Friday Five: The week's top news stories

By BigHospitality

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: The week's top news stories

Related tags: Service charge, Restaurant, Public house, Hotel, Vat, Coronavirus

The Government's announcement of a cut in vat to 5% for hospitality was the leading story this week - here are some of the other stories that stole the headlines.

- The Chancellor has set out a three-stage plan to 'support', 'create' and 'protect' jobs. In a bid to secure jobs in the hospitality sector, the Chancellor announced that the rate of VAT applied to food​ - both eat in and takeaway - accommodation and attractions will be cut from 20% to 5% from next Wednesday (15 July) for a six-month period until 12 January 2021. To help ensure there is enough demand as businesses in the sector reopen, Sunak also set out plans for an 'Eat Out to Help Out' discount scheme of a 50% reduction for sit-down meals in cafes, restaurants and pubs up to a value of £10 per head, across the UK between Monday and Wednesday every week throughout August.

- London restaurants Oklava and Hill & Szrok separately announced they will be no longer add a 12.5% service charge to bills​, and will instead be incorporating the cost into menu prices. Both businesses say they decided to make the change after staff members were left out of pocket during the lockdown as a result of the Government's policy not to include tronc payments under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS). While, in theory, the JRS is meant to allow employees to be furloughed and still receive 80% of their wage up £2,500 per month, the decision to exclude tronc payments meant many staff within the hospitality sector have actually been receiving far less.

- Sandwich chain Pret A Manger has confirmed it is to close 30 of its UK sites as part of its plans to restructure the business having seen sales plummet as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. While the company says it has done everything it can to save jobs it will close 30 sites of its 410-strong estate with at least 1,000 jobs at risk​. ​As part of the group's restructuring, a sale process will be started for the lease of Pret's main support office in London Victoria. In a statement released this morning (6 July), Pret chief executive Pano Christou said: "When the Coronavirus crisis hit, we said that our priority was to protect our people, our customers, and of course Pret. We confirmed it was our intention to do everything we could to save jobs.

- At least 30,000 jobs are expected to be lost in the Welsh hospitality sector as a result of the Coronavirus, with nearly half of these having already happened, according to the results of a new survey. The survey of more than 100 independent pubs, cafes, restaurants and event caterers​ carried out by the newly-formed Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective (WIRC) over the weekend (4-5 July) found that within the 102 businesses that responded, 434 jobs had already been lost, with a further 452 planned, amounting to 886 job losses from the sample. Multiplied by the scale of the sector in Wales, and the total number of jobs losses will be in excess of 30,000, according to WIRC.

- Pubs and restaurants in Scotland have been told that they can reopen for indoor service from next Wednesday (15 July), providing they follow strict health measures. Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon ​said it was essential that the Scottish Government's guidance on health and safety was followed rigorously, by businesses, staff and customers. Hospitality venues will also be allowed to operate under a reduced contact gap of one metre, providing mitigations are met.

Related topics: Business

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