There has been, as always, a huge amount of commentary about the Budget and particularly this year around the impact on the UK’s wounded hospitality industry.
Commentators are mostly in agreement that the measures are welcome and will prop up the industry in the short term but the measures do not go far enough to protect businesses that have been ravaged by the COVID crisis in the long term particularly when it comes to rent support and business rates.
I do not want to reinvent the wheel and there is little that I can add to this commentary in general terms but one things that strikes me is that the Chancellor missed the opportunity to support and encourage the evolution of the hospitality industry that we have seen in the last 12 months.
Protection of what already exists is of course essential but supporting the incredible development and pace of technological change in this sector would have been hugely welcomed. It's evident that the hospitality businesses that are still intact (and dare I say it, even those that have done reasonably well in the last 12 months) have done so because they were fast, innovative and creative in their use of technology to continue trading.
Of course a number of the larger players already had these systems in place and were able to develop or extend these capabilities but it has been exciting (and nourishing on a personal level) to see smaller businesses take advantage of the extra time that has been forced upon them through compulsory closures to also creatively adapt and develop new service lines and offerings.
Innovation in this area was inevitable regardless of any global pandemic or other black swan but has clearly accelerated in the last 12 months. These advancements will continue to shape the hospitality industry for years to come but it is clear that we are not out of the woods yet and technology will remain central to business operations for at least the remainder of this year.
Along with a number of key players in the industry I was hoping for more consideration from the Chancellor last Wednesday of the lasting changes that will keep the incredible hospitality industry in this country afloat in the long term.
Advanced digital training; assistance with the contractual frameworks necessitated by digital advancement; and help navigating the regulatory landscape that governs data use and sharing, each supported by Government grants, would have been helpful as a starting point.
We can only hope that the ingenuity from industry leaders that has brought us this far will continue and suffice.
Chefs and restaurateurs have reacted positively to the measures for hospitality businesses laid out in the Chancellor’s budget, although many would still like to see more support given to the sector.