Ramsay urges Sunak to extend VAT cut and furlough for hospitality

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Gordon Ramsay urges Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend VAT cut and furlough for hospitality

Related tags: Gordon ramsay, Rishi Sunak, Vat cut, Furlough, Coronavirus, Restaurant

Gordon Ramsay has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the VAT holiday and furlough for struggling hospitality businesses at his Budget.

Ramsay told the Chancellor that the schemes have been a 'massive boost' and 'pivotal' to supporting restaurants, bars and pubs during the pandemic.

During the virtual meeting, which took place earlier this week, Ramsay said: “I think as a Government, we've been supported better than any other country I know.

"And secondly, you've been precise, what you've said you've stood by and delivered.”

“I think we've been given one of the most incredible support systems from the furlough scheme, which was instrumental in maintaining some positivity. I think you delivered beyond.

“But the downside for me is that we have lost some really good restaurants that were good, but sadly, there are going to be casualties.”

Responding to Ramsay's comments, the Chancellor assured the chef that hospitality is 'incredibly important' to the country economically, as well to communities.

He said: "It just gives joy to people's lives. It brings life to villages, towns across the country, and seeing that taken from us is incredibly sad and we have to recapture that again.”

Calls have consistently been growing for the Chancellor to confirm extensions to the cut in VAT and business rates to help the beleaguered industry as it tries to recover from the Coronavirus crisis.

Sunak reduced VAT for the hospitality sector to 5% last summer, but the measure is currently set to end on 31 March and there are growing fears among those in the hospitality sector that the Chancellor will choose not to extend it. 

Ramsay, whose restaurant empire includes 19 UK restaurants that are concentrated in the capital, was meeting Sunak as part of the Treasury's new series of “In Conversation” meetings with industry leaders that is designed to inform the Chancellor about what each sector needs to help it recover from the impact of the pandemic.

The chef faced significant criticism at the onset of the Covid crisis last March when he made 500 staff across his London's restaurants redundant.

It is understood that some of those redundancies were subsequently reversed, with the employees placed on furlough instead.

Sunak's decision to speak to Ramsay has led to an outcry from members of the industry who claim the chef is not representative of the struggles being faced by the sector.

Darjeeling Express founder Asma Khan tweeted: "I have often talked about how the 'leaders' of hospitality represent narrow vested interests & are not representative or diverse. They radiate that Mayfair big boys 'members only' club feel.

"The shouty chef in his new avatar as game show host is not who you need to speak to Rishi."

Thom Hetherington, CEO of Manchester's Northern Restaurant and Bar show, accused the Chancellor of 'tone-deaf, transparent brand-building'.

He said: "Gordon cannot speak for the many independent businesses that are hanging on by their fingernails, drowning in debt, and tortured by ghoulish gaslighting by your government and their complicit media mouthpieces."

To watch the full conversation between Rishi Sunak and Gordon Ramsay, click here​.

Related topics: Business

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