As I write we await a spate of economic statistics. These include employment numbers – on which we as a country have consistently outperformed major economies, especially our European peers, for a decade – and economic growth.
Although, in part thanks to the furlough scheme and other Government interventions, the news is likely to be better than the Bank of England and other economists first feared, there is little doubt it will be concerning – especially compared to recent (pre Covid) announcements.
The range and impact on the economy of Covid will take months, if not years, to assess: the strength of the UK’s service sector, something our competitors usually envy, will have an adverse impact given that this is often associated with face to face contact.
One example of this is the restaurant and hospitality sector. This plays an important part in our economy, nationally employing some 3.2 million people, over ten per cent of these in the South East.
We only need to think how much the food offering has changed in Horsham over the last 20 years to recognise how much of a growth industry this has been (and how much standards have improved from the UK once being the but of gastronomic jokes across the continent).
These venues, like our familiar pubs, famous the world over, also have a wider economic impact on our High Streets. Where people plan to come into Horsham for food and relaxation, they also often end up popping into the shops bringing in further business.
Last week the Government’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme launched and already over 10.5 million claims have been made. This is an excellent response to the scheme and it will give the hospitality sector a boost it needs to help get it back on its feet with restored confidence.
The scheme offers diners a 50% discount on food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in participating establishments from Monday to Wednesday throughout August up to a maximum £10 discount per diner.
In total, 83,068 restaurants have signed up to the scheme and I know this number includes many of our fantastic, local establishments. To find out which establishments are participating and to find out more information about “Eat Out to Help Out”, please use the following link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-a-discount-with-the-eat-out-to-help-out-scheme
This is an offer I would never in usual circumstances expect any Government to make and I doubt we will ever see it again. However these are exceptional times. I know many in Horsham will think twice about eating out when they know others are facing real hardship. This scheme is however having a positive impact on footfall into many of our cherished local venues at a time when visitors to this country and shopping visits are, for obvious reasons, down. If we want to hang on to our favourite places this is a great way to help them – and the many they directly and indirectly employ.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Quin recently visited Zeytin which is relatively new to Horsham but which he was delighted to hear has bounced back strongly after lockdown was relaxed. They are preparing for entry in this year’s British Kebab awards!