Friday Five: the week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news

Related tags: Budget

This week's main hospitality news stories include the Chancellor's Budget announcement; Sacha Lord challenging hospitality's delayed reopening date; and Tomahawk refuting claims it bullied staff into lending it money.

- Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed that both the business rates holiday and VAT cut for hospitality businesses will be extended into the next financial year. In his Budget announcement this week, the Chancellor set out his vision to help the economy recover from the Coronavirus crisis​ as it gradually emerges from lockdown in the coming months. Alcohol duty will be frozen for a further year; one-off 'restart grants will be introduced; and support for the self-employed will be broadened in a Budget that has been welcomed by the hospitality sector​, but is arguably not as generous as many businesses would have hoped.

- Greater Manchester's night time economy advisor Sacha Lord is to challenge the Government's decision to not allow hospitality to reopen for indoor service until five weeks after non-essential retail unlocks​. Lord has confirmed he is currently in talks with his legal team regarding the lack of evidence to justify the delayed reopening. It comes after it was revealed that the Government was forced to drop its ‘substantial meal' rule following a successful legal challenge by Lord against Health Secretary Matt Hancock. Judges in the case​​ ruled that the restriction imposed on wet-led pubs during England's tiered lockdown system last year​​ was 'arguably discriminatory' towards certain sections of society.

- Steakhouse restaurant group Tomahawk has refuted claims by the GMB Union that it bullied staff into lending it money​ to pay employee's National Insurance and pension contributions. The restaurant group is said to have called a meeting for all staff, where it asked to borrow the money from their pay packets. In the Zoom meeting it is alleged that staff were told the company would review whether they were suitable for the role if they didn't agree to making the loan. In a company statement, Tomahawk said it had asked staff to help cover the cost of NI and pensions, but refuted the claims by GMB that staff were compelled to do so.

- Hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland have 'a genuine fear' more firms will collapse after the Executive's pathway out of lockdown failed to confirm when the sector can unlock​. The plan for lifting restrictions, announced earlier this week, is broken down into four stages, with wet-led pubs and nightclubs unable to properly unlock until the final phase. Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said the pathway would see a 'gradual and careful' reopening of the economy that should have progressed to its final stage by the summer. However, trade body Hospitality Ulster says the sector has been left 'frustrated' by the lack of even nominal reopening dates, as well as the decision to once again target wet-led pubs for extended closure.

- Chef Dan Kenny has found a new home for his tasting menu-only restaurant The Set​ following his departure from Brighton’s Artist Residence hotel. The Set is expected to reopen as early as mid May at Café Rust near Preston Park in Brighton’s London Road area. Initially The Set will operate on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights with Café Rust continuing to trade as a coffee shop and café during the daytime. The experience will be comparable to that offered at Artist Residence with Kenny and team offering eight or 10 course menus comprised of modern, playful dishes to a maximum of 16 covers. Staff numbers will be tight with Kenny and one other chef in the kitchen and two front of house.

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

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