The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) is still concerned about the lack of specific support for wholesalers despite the positive measures introduced by the government.
In a mini budget announcement, chancellor Rishi Sunak reduced VAT to 5% in the hospitality sector. This is in addition to a job retention bonus and a scheme where the government will subsidise 50% of meals eaten at specific restaurants next month to the value of £10 a head.
“Measures announced today to boost demand in the hospitality sector through the voucher scheme and a VAT cut are welcome, as is the extra funding for businesses bringing colleagues back from furlough,” explains FWD chief executive James Bielby.
“However, while it was never likely that today’s statement would be used for announcements about existing schemes, we are still concerned about the lack of specific support for wholesalers. If consumers are going to start eating out again foodservice wholesalers need to be stocked and ready to deliver, and to offer credit to their customers.”
He points out that the measures introduced do nothing to alleviate severe cash flow issues. “We continue to work with government to push for wholesalers to receive the same measures as their hospitality and retail customers, specifically business rates relief, to maintain a viable supply chain not only into pubs, hotels and restaurants, but also vital public sector contracts such as NHS, care homes and schools.”
Meanwhile, up in Scotland, confirmation that the country’s pubs and bars can reopen on Wednesday has been warmly welcomed by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA).
The trade group’s managing director, Colin Wilkinson, said: “Two boosts for Scotland’s pubs and bars in 24 hours is just what the sector needed to start the rebuilding of one of Scotland’s key industries and jobs providers.”
“The SLTA was waiting with baited breath on whether our pubs and bars would be given the green light to open up indoor areas following the delayed reopening of outdoors areas and beer gardens. The First Minister’s announcement has cleared the way for the majority of premises to open their doors and welcome back customers, albeit in restricted numbers,” he added.