19 | Mar | 20

Richard Johnson

What Can YOU Do?

Right people – time for next steps. And a letter to your MP. Everyone is panicking about the state of the hospitality industry right now, and we would like to put in a good word for street food traders. As highlighted by NCASS (guiding lights of the industry since way back when) the government’s support measures don’t apply to traders because they don’t pay business rates. The whole of the independent mobile catering and bar sector is in a state of emergency and needs our help.

As NCASS say in their letter to MPs (download it here) almost all of the UK’s street food businesses will close or mothball. “A significant number have huge sums of money tied up in festival deposits and it is not clear that the sector will survive this summer or even return next summer. Even if events postpone or manage to operate towards the end of summer, ticket sales have fallen off a cliff, so any profit that may have come from events / festivals will be drastically limited due to likely poor attendance.”

There are a few concrete steps we can take. And take RIGHT NOW. 1. Write to your MP. 2. Shout about the problem on social media. We are working with NCASS to create opportunities for traders. At least half of the UK’s street food businesses are equipped to operate as takeaways – either as delivery ‘black sites’ using existing market spaces or on road sides and car parks. However, UK trading restrictions must be lifted first.

Street food could help the government to feed the OAPs, people in social care or on benefits. Traders could cook affordable healthy food for communities, enabling hot food provision or delivery to those most in need. The street food industry is here to support the government’s efforts to protect the British public through these challenging times. We want to do our bit, but we can’t if our sector shuts for good.

NCASS released a survey this week gauging the severity of the issues our sector is facing. So far, 75% of respondents don’t know if they are eligible for business rates relief, and more than half have seen a 75-100% reduction in enquiries and bookings. More than 80% of NCASS members are not clear about access to government finance support and 65% feel that the current situation will lead them to close their businesses for good.

As we reschedule our heats for the 2020 British Street Food Awards supported by Hellmann’s, we’re asking the government that they provide clarity as soon as possible as to: a. how they intend to support our sector including access to grants, and b. whether they can lift trading regulations regarding street trading licensing for traders and c. whether or not the emergency catering provision is something that they wish to adopt.

Our traders are busty making decisions including closures and redundancies right now. We therefore please urge you to respond and act accordingly – there is no time to lose. For a copy of a letter you can send to your MP, please click on https://www.ncass.org.uk/coronavirus/letter-to-government/ right now….