Last Saturday, I walked down Regent Street past the Everyman Theatre. Tables had been laid out on the pavement in the glorious sunshine. Spotting me, one lady pointed to her slice of cake and called out with a big grin “I’m eating out to help out!”
She was right. Firing up our hospitality sector is so important for our economic recovery, particularly in Cheltenham. Under Rishi Sunak’s, ‘Eat Out’ scheme, anyone who eats at a participating business Monday to Wednesday for the month of August, can receive up to 50 per cent off food and non-alcoholic drinks, up to a value of £10 per person. Businesses can claim the money back from the Government.
If people make bookings in Cheltenham restaurants it’s important that they honour them. I was saddened to read on GlosLive how the owner of local independent restaurant Domaine 16 had been left ‘heartbroken’ after no-shows. Six of the nine booked tables did not turn up and had not called to cancel. Andrew Kojima from excellent local Japanese food restaurant Koj, has spoken out about this too in the past.
It’s a shabby thing to do, particularly at a time like this. Small business owners in Cheltenham put their heart and soul into their work. They take risks, employ staff and pay the taxes we need to support our public services. We all need to play our part in supporting them.
More generally, it is fantastic to see Cheltenham, the town we love, slowly stirring back to life. Buskers are back outside John Lewis, children are out with their parents. To support that, I’m pleased that from this week VAT applied across hospitality, accommodation and attractions will be slashed from 20 per cent to 5 per cent until 12 January 2021.
This will help support over 5,000 jobs in Cheltenham alone, and 2.5 million nationwide. Now let's get out there and back local businesses.