Friday Five: the week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news

Related tags: Restaurant, Coronavirus

This week's main hospitality news stories include calls for Rishi Sunak to announce additional business support; fears over the end of the rent moratoria; and pubs struggling to access Government grants.

- Trade body UKHospitality has called for a 'bold package' of support to enable businesses in the sector to spearhead country’s economic revival​ in 2021. Ahead of this year’s Budget statement in March, UKHospitality has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlining the additional action needed to accelerate the revival of the UK’s hospitality sector, slash unemployment and bring the whole nation together. In order to ensure the early, rapid return to growth of as many hospitality businesses as possible, it says the Government must extend the VAT cut to 5% for a further 12 months, and ensure it applies across the broad hospitality sector, to stimulate economic activity; and enact a further business rates holiday for hospitality for 2021/22 to protect communities and repair businesses. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has also called on the Government to announce extensions to business support measures​ this week, in order to ensure the survival of firms until the economy reopens. In his own letter to the Chancellor, CBI director-general Tony Danker called for the furlough scheme, business rates holiday and deferral of VAT to be extended until at least the summer. He added that the announcement of such extensions will be needed in the next few weeks, ahead of the Budget, to help protect UK companies through the Spring.

- Loungers chairman and co-founder Alex Reilley expects the end of the lease forfeiture and debt enforcement moratoria in March will lead to a 'phenomenal glut' of CVAs across hospitality​. Reilley, whose all-day dining group operates more than 150 sites across England and Wales, says the end of the rent protections, which were introduced at the onset of Coronavirus pandemic in March last year, will leave thousands of lease-hold hospitality businesses that have racked up a year's worth of rent arrears 'horrifically exposed' to all manner of legal action. "The cliff edge we are facing as a sector is not being highlighted strongly enough," he tells BigHospitality. "Loungers won’t lose any sites as a consequence of this, but there will be thousands of smaller hospitality businesses that will be horrifically exposed once this ends. On that day, you can bet your bottom dollar we’ll begin to see winding up petitions being served and landlords going down the nuclear route. But I don’t know, ultimately, how this gets resolved."

- Three quarters of pubs are yet to receive the Christmas grant promised to them by the Government at the beginning of December 2020​, according to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). The £1,000 one-off grant was created to assist wet-led pubs forced to close through the Christmas period, however, as of this month only a quarter of wet-led pubs (26%) have actually received the grants, according to a BBPA survey of its members. Over a usual festive period, the average pub would make £47,000 in revenue – by far the biggest trading period of the year for the sector, says the BBPA. The BBPA also says that over half of the grants introduced to support pubs through the tier restrictions and November lockdown are yet to be paid too. In the same survey of its members, it found that nearly half (46%) of pubs are still yet to receive Local Restrictions Support Grants that were made available for pubs facing tier restrictions and forced to close during the November lockdown. The delay in the delivery of the grants means that many pubs reliant on them to survive could have been lost for good, it warns.

- A world-beating College of Food should be established in London​ with a mission to transform culinary education and support the hospitality industry to recover from Coronavirus and Brexit. That’s according to a new report by the think tank Centre for London, which believes existing courses at further education colleges across the city should come under a recognised brand creating a new ‘centre of excellence’ backed by ‘world-class teaching standards’. The new college would be able to teach a wider, more up to date range of skills and boost the standing and appeal of London’s culinary education offer to Londoners, as well as national and international students, Centre for London says. The report illustrates why a new approach to culinary education is needed now, drawing a contrast between the global reputation of London’s art, design and fashion schools, and the relatively low standing of its catering colleges.

- Birmingham-based chef Andrew Sheridan is to launch a street food van​ that will serve French bistro dishes as well as putting on a number of collaborations with other well-known chefs. Due to start trading at the end of the month, Artisan Street Kitchen will feature chefs including Glynn Purnell (Purnell’s), Gareth Ward (Ynyshir) and Aktar Islam (Opheem) for special nights in February and March. Artisan Street Kitchen will tour Birmingham covering areas including Blackwell, Barston and Bromsgrove but the chef collaborations will see the van park up in Birmingham city centre. Sheridan’s own a la carte menu includes French onion soup; ham and cheese croquettes; croque monsieur; deep-fried dauphinoise; and French toast with banana and caramel sauce. All orders are to be made in advance online via the website, where guests will be required to select the location of the pick-up, the collection date and time slot in advance to ‘ensure a controlled and safe collection’. The menus created with other chefs will be available via a fixed price voucher for three dishes.

Check below for more of this week's headlines, or click here​.

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