Top chefs back Chamber call for more hospitality support

28 September 2021

Top chefs, restauranteurs and owners from across the region have joined forces with Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce to voice concerns over the imminent reversal of VAT rate reductions. 

In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the Chamber and well-known hospitality industry figures such as Simpsons owner Andreas Antona and TV chef Glynn Purnell are calling for an extension to the rates reduction in a bid to drive consumer demand.

The letter – signed by more than 30 representatives from the hospitality and dining sector – also urges the Chancellor to use his Autumn Budget to reform the “outdated” business rates system. 

A temporary reduced VAT rate of 5 per cent that was introduced to help hospitality and tourism firms through the Covid-19 crisis is due to expire this Friday (1 October). 

However, the Chamber says the pandemic has had “pronounced effect” on the hospitality industry and is calling for several measures to be implemented:

  • Maintaining a long-term reduction in rates of VAT in a bid to drive consumer demand over the 12 next months
  • Extending the current business rates relief system beyond March 2022 for an additional six months to ease the huge cost pressures that hospitality firms are facing
  • Using the upcoming Autumn Budget to fundamentally reform the outdated business rates system to create a platform which will encourage investment and business growth across the industry

Chamber vice-president Deb Leary, who joined a number of top chefs and restauranteurs at Simpsons in Edgbaston to launch the appeal, said: “Whilst we recognise the unparalleled support businesses have received during the pandemic, the damaging impact of the Covid-19 has been particularly pronounced across the hospitality industry.

“As a Chamber we are delighted to be working alongside the hospitality industry across Greater Birmingham as we call on the Government to do everything it possibly can to help the sector get back on its feet and firing again as we emerge from the pandemic. 

“In particular, maintaining a long-term reduction in VAT will play a vital role in fuelling demand and safeguarding thousands of jobs across the industry. 

“Ultimately, it’s essential the Government also bring forward business rate reform to ease the massive overheads businesses are experiencing in order to facilitate a return to growth in the long term.”

Andreas Antona, chef patron and owner of Simpsons in Birmingham, said: “We are grateful for what the government has done so far but they now need to recognise that we need long-term support to really get back on our feet. 

“It’s far too soon to raise VAT and we need more time to give us a levelling playing-field as we recover from the impact of the shutdowns.”

TV personality Glynn Purnell, proprietor and head chef at Purnell’s restaurant in Birmingham, said: “We definitely need breathing space before VAT goes up again. 

“We are going through a honeymoon period at the moment with many people treating themselves to a nice meal out to compensate for not being able to take the holiday they would like.

“But that will not last for ever and we need help to return to pre-pandemic levels in the long term. We hope that the government will recognise that.”

The letter has been signed by:

Henrietta Brealey, CEO, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
Andreas Antona, Owner, Simpsons in Birmingham and The Cross in Kenilworth
Luke Tipping, Executive Chef at Simpsons, Edgbaston

Adam Bennett, Chef Director of The Cross, Kenilworth

Adam Stokes, Chef Owner, Adam’s and The Oyster Club

Paul Halsey, Owner, Pure Craft Bar & Kitchen

Jayne O’Malley, Hotel Group General Manager, The Edgbaston

Sarah Parkinson, Assistant Hotel General Manager, The Edgbaston

Darren Insall, Owner, The Edgbaston

Stuart Insall, Owner, The Edgbaston

Rick Cressman, Owner, Nailcote Manor

Aktar Islam, Chef Director for Opheem, Pulperia & Aktar @ home

Jabbar G. Khan, Founder & Director, Lasan Group

James Hill, Managing Director, Hampton Manor

Glynn Purnell, Chef Patron, Purnell’s 

Claire Lisham, PR Manager, Purnell’s

Brad Carter, Chef Owner of Carters of Moseley

Alex Claridge, Head Chef and Owner of The Wilderness

Sam Morgan, Owner, Craft at The International Convention Centre

Ajay Kenth, Tap & Tandoor, Zindiya, Vita, Greens, Taste Collective

Ann Tonks, Managing Director, Chapter Restaurant Ltd

Irene Allan, Restaurant Director, Chapter Restaurant Ltd

Ben Ternent, Chef Director, Chapter Restaurant Ltd

Jason Kirsch, Operations Director, Resorts World Birmingham

Ellie Beattie, Group Sales and Marketing Manager, Hogarths Hotels and Restaurants

Byron Carnegie, Director, Jamaya

Joe Barber, Finance Director, The Barn at Berryfields

Emma Morgan, General Manager, Malmaison Birmingham

Anne Marie Simpson, Simpsons Gin Bar

Mark Tasker, General Manager, Crowne Plaza Birmingham

Harpreet Sian, General Manager, IBIS Birmingham New Street Station

Michele Wilby, CEO, Colmore BID

Lawrence Barton, Chairman, Southside BID