EXPERTS STRIVE TO HELP THE HOSPITALITY SECTOR AS GARDEN CENTRES AND FARM SHOPS DEALT ANOTHER BLOW IN THE GOVERNMENT’S PANDEMIC RESPONSE

Business Development specialists at planning consultancy Malcolm Scott Consultants are working closely with garden centres and farm shops to try and guide them through the support options available after they were dealt another blow during the country’s Coronavirus response.

With hospitality businesses having invested heavily into making their properties as safe as possible for customers, purchasing PPE, increasing sanitation levels, increasing staff training and losing seating and investing screening  to facilitate the necessary distancing between tables, now a large proportion of England have been banned from socialising in an indoor hospitality setting with those from outside their household.

Pic credit: iStock/Antonio_Diaz

Andrew Burton said: “The conversations we have had are so concerning. We work with significant portfolios of garden centres and farm shops throughout the country, and for more than six months we’ve been helping them navigate whatever business support package are available to them.  There is a total appreciation for safety and the garden centres and farm shops are excellent examples of being safe places to visit.  The controls they have in place are often standard leading.

“We are doing all we can to assist owners and understandably there is a massive amount of frustration and distress throughout the hospitality sectors. Cafes and restaurants have done all they can, with some increasing outside areas, most reducing indoor seating capacity and others installing screens around seating areas.  Further restrictions according to this week’s tiered response, state that sites in tier two cannot allow more than one household to mix indoors and tier three includes prohibiting social mixing in all indoor settings could create a decline in bookings too.  There is no doubt that this will affect café/restaurant bookings, especially at a time over Halloween and Christmas where families come together.

According the Government’s latest Job Support Scheme announcement, aimed at those businesses subject to closure due to the pandemic, properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under will receive grants of £667 per two weeks of closure, equating to £1,334 per month, while those with a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive grants of £1,000 per two weeks of closure – equating to £2,000 per month. Properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or over will receive grants of £1,500 per two weeks of closure, or £3,000 per month.

Andrew said: “We can help cafes and restaurants seek refunds for periods of closure not covered by the Government’s response, and post-opening, we will be working to seek lower Rateable Values for the future that will stay in place after the rates free period has ended. Similarly, we intend to argue for reduced rates on sites that are forced to close or have not reopened.

“We know that across the board, local authority leaders and individual MPs are reasoning with the Government to take into account local epidemiology to take all necessary steps to protect staff and customers alike, rather than place sweeping measures upon them that could prove fatal at such a crucial time.

“We are doing everything we can to work with hospitality venues to access as much Government support as possible, and can only hope that a review of procedures sooner rather than later will see the sector receive a much-needed break,” he added.

To discuss the financial aid available to restaurants via the Government at this time, contact the team at info@malcolmscottcons.co.uk