“We are struggling badly”: Brent businesses react to £1bn hospitality fund

Empty tables inside a restaurant in Covent Garden

Brent businesses are struggling this Christmas with many restaurants and shops empty in the capital amid rising omicron cases - Credit: PA

Hospitality businesses in Brent say the chancellor’s support scheme “is not enough” to make up for their loss of earnings during the omicron surge.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £1 billion fund yesterday (December 22), which includes cash grants of up to £6,000 for businesses in the hospitality sector, as well as covering sick pay costs for certain venues. 

Touria Rabbani, who runs Venezia cafe in Willesden Green said the grant “will not really help”, adding: “The business has gone quieter, you can see here in Willesden Green the street is empty, theres been a big effect on business.

"We’re still struggling from the previous lockdown. We are a small business and we are struggling badly.”

Alex Gutfulyak, from Dempsey’s cafe on Willesden High Road, says the fund “is not enough” for big businesses.

“For small businesses like mine [the fund] is a big help for the time being, but for big businesses it’s not enough. Even for us, we don’t even have one booking for Christmas day, last year we had 60 here," he said. 

The chancellor described the scheme as “generous”, and said the new support recognises the situation many hospitality and leisure businesses are facing in the run up to Christmas.

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But businesses told the Brent & Kilburn Times that £6,000 will not be enough to cover soaring rent prices. 

Gazi Aygun, who manages Kings Cafe on the High Road said: “I don’t think £6,000 is enough because rent is quite high, business has gone down.. it’s very quiet.. its just me and my wife here, theres always three or four people in here at once but now its just me and my wife .”

Andreia Souza, who runs Poisé Jamaican restaurant, said they “are in a very difficult situation”, but the grant is a welcome relief.

She added: “Its going to help us, of course.I don’t think £6,000 will be enough but its going to be a good help because we have rent to pay, I’m behind on my business rates. At the moment I’m here and my restaurant is empty..everybody is disparate.”

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