One of the UK’s most renowned restaurateurs has urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to “wake up and see how disastrous the situation is” as he launched a petition calling for business rates to be reviewed.
David Moore, the owner of Michelin-star restaurant Pied à Terre for 27 years, wants the UK to abolish business rates and instate a fairer US style sales tax instead.
The hospitality sector provides 2.3 million crucial jobs in the UK, but he fears that number will reduce in the next three years as hiring slows down due to Brexit.
The number of UK restaurants forced to close jumped by a fifth last year as major chains came under pressure from rising costs and competition, while nearly 1,000 restaurants were declared insolvent, compared with 825 the year before.
Leading restaurant chains such as Gaucho, Jamie’s Italian, Prezzo, and Byron have been forced to close outlets across the UK due to mounting pressures of business rates, while smaller outfits have blamed costs for their decision to cancel openings.
Mr Moore is demanding that business rates are reviewed so restaurants can thrive and continue to provide jobs.
He said: “The restaurant industry in the UK employs millions of people, supporting families all over the country. Restaurants are now struggling to survive and growth is set to show little growth over the new few years. There are therefore fewer jobs available and as we approach what could be a turbulent Christmas, businesses are worried – they just can’t afford to offer jobs that have traditionally always been available in our entrenched industry.
“Mr Hammond needs to wake up and see how disastrous the situation is. This is not just a fight to save the popular chains we all know and love, but a battle to give relief to smaller family-run and independent businesses and more importantly, security for their employees.”
Mr Moore has launched a Parliament petition, which is being supported by the deputy mayor of business, Rajesh Agrawal and Lawrence Hartley, founder of Alliance of Independent Restaurants.
Lee Lyons, chief operating officer at The Fitzrovia Partnership, is another supporter of the campaign. He said: “Fitzrovia is home to over 250 restaurants, bars and cafes in the food and drink quarter of London – a number of which we represent. The growing business rates are therefore a serious concern to us. We want to know that our favourite bars, restaurants and cafes will continue to thrive but also that new establishments will be in a position to open without the fear of spiralling costs. We want Fitzrovia to remain a hub with thriving businesses and new openings, not closures.”