The letter also asks the Government to provide further support in enabling restaurants across the UK to weather the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
A total of 330 Deliveroo restaurant partners, including the CEOs of Itsu, Pizza Hut UK and Rosa’s Thai Café, have signed the letter. Together they collectively represent more than 1,400 restaurants across the UK.
The signatories recognise the important help the Government has provided over the past year, but argue that it is critical that financial and practical support continues in order to protect jobs in the restaurant sector.
In the letter, Shu warns that if the Government withdraws support too early or too suddenly, it will ‘risk viable businesses failing just as the light at the end of the tunnel is becoming clearer’.
Echoing similar calls made by hospitality business leaders in a letter to the Chancellor that's been published today (15 February), Shu urges the Government to extend the 5% rate of VAT for hospitality and consider making it a permanent fixture; extend business rates relief for a further financial year; maintain the furlough scheme as long as is necessary for restaurants to fully return to dine-in; and ensure that key workers in the food sector are part of the second phase of vaccine rollout.
He also calls for support on rent to ensure that landlords are prevented from evicting commercial tenants based on rent arrears, provided they pay current rent obligations and agree to a payment plan to repay past liabilities.
Looking beyond the lockdown, the letter proposes a renewal of the EOHO scheme when it is safe to reopen restaurants; incentivising restaurants to recruit and retain staff by allowing them to take on new staff without the additional burden of National Insurance Contributions for at least six months; and the Government providing targeted relief to encourage business investment and innovation in the restaurant sector post-pandemic.
“Restaurants are at the heart of our high streets and local communities and we want to play our part to help them reopen their doors when the economy opens up again," says Shu.
“That is why we are calling on the Government to implement this package of measures, which will be an important lifeline for small independents and high street family favourites.”
Earlier this month figures from a Lumina Hospitality Leaders poll revealed that almost two thirds of hospitality operators would like to see a return of the EOHO scheme.
When asked if they were in favour of another Government-funding eating out scheme, 62% of respondents said they were, with 34% saying they would be 'extremely' in favour of seeing its return.
Of those asked, 85% of respondents were confident that the public would also support another scheme - with over half (57%) ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ confident of this.
The EOHO scheme, which ran in August last year, was was hailed a success by the hospitality sector, with more than 100 million meals claimed in total by diners and a large majority of businesses saying it led to a boost in trade.