Support package ‘doesn’t scratch the surface’, says fine dining business owner

·2-min read

The owner of a London-based fine dining business has said the hospitality industry has been left “in limbo” by the Government, adding that the financial support announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak “doesn’t scratch the surface”.

The Chancellor has offered a £1 billion support package to businesses hit by Covid restrictions, including one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in affected sectors in England.

Charlotte Major, 35, and her husband Martin, 36, run Gather E17, a business that hosts fine dining events in Walthamstow and said they were uncertain whether the announcement could benefit them.

“The amount doesn’t scratch the surface for most businesses,” Mrs Major told the PA news agency.

“I also think that a company like ours that doesn’t have a premises is not eligible and that local authority funding is often hugely delayed and inadequate.”

Mrs Major said her business would usually take between 20% and 30% of its yearly income in December, but that this had been “the quietest December we’ve ever had”.

She added: “I don’t disagree with the (Government’s Covid) advice, but … it leaves us in limbo. Are we doing the wrong thing by actively encouraging customers to come and eat with us? Is that immoral?

“But if we don’t do that, we can’t pay our staff. They can’t pay their rent.”

Rishi Sunak
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £1 billion support package to businesses hit by Covid restrictions (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mrs Major also said further restrictions could be better for her business due to the financial support available.

“I think if a lockdown is necessary, which is increasingly looking like it is, then yeah, that’s better than where we’re at now,” she said.

“You get furlough, so your staff have job security. You have security that you’ve still got your team. And you’re able to pay all the bills associated with your business. At the moment, we can’t do any of that.”

The Chancellor also announced that the Government intended to use taxpayers’ cash to cover the cost of statutory sick pay for Covid-related absences for firms with fewer than 250 employees.

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