The Handbook
The Handbook

It is a tough time for all of us, but almost nobody has been financially hit quite like the hospitality industry. Good businesses make plans for gradual slowdowns and seasonal fluctuations, but they simply do not plan for business going to zero in the space of a month, as happened over the last month.

I worked at the very centre of Government as the Prime Minister’s business adviser during the Brexit negotiations, and I just want to start by stating the obvious: the Government desperately wants you to get through this.

The Government relies on entrepreneurs striking out and improving the UK economy and that’s exactly what makes the hospitality sector, the hotels, restaurants and bars we all love, so important.

I just want to start by stating the obvious: the Government desperately wants you to get through this...

But even at the best of times government isn’t always the best communicator with small businesses. To be fair, with over five million small businesses in the UK, and each sector bringing along its own nuances and issues, it’s a tall order, but with a myriad of Government webpages it can be incredibly hard to know where to go for help and advice.

I’ve tried to put together a list of helpful links for those businesses struggling in the hospitality sector.

Direct From The Government

The best place for accessing help from the government is, unsurprisingly, direct from government. They’ve helpfully put them into one list here, and this is the key page for pointing you in the right direction.

The Government classes retail and hospitality as shops, restaurants, cafés, bars or pubs, cinemas and live music venues, assembly or leisure properties (like a sports club, gym or spa) or a hospitality property – for example, a hotel, a guest house or self-catering accommodation. Check the full list here (on page five).

Their rents will not be applied for the 2020/21 financial year, importantly you do not need to take action, but if you want to check your status then there is further information here.

The Government have also produced a relevant case study of the restaurant chain Hawksmoor, it’s well worth a read and you can find it here.

Another good case study on the food service wholesaler Bidfood is available here.

Speak to your MP

It is also worth writing to your local MP and introducing yourself, they can be an important router for information and can often explain if an issue is a national government issue or if you should be writing to your local council (for example, business rate relief is actually a local, rather than national, issue)

You can find out who your MP is by going to and typing in your postcode. You can then contact them from the site or find their contact details from their profiles here.

Federation of Small Businesses

To get good reliable advice as a small business, it is best to reach out to the FSB, they provide excellent advice for small businesses of all the different shapes that small business goes in. They have some excellent free webinars which could help you on some of your key questions. More information is available here.

IPSE (For Freelancers)

If you are a freelancer, you will know that it is hard sometimes working on your own and getting good guidance, you will probably have informal networks, but the reliability of those can be patchy, the Independent Professionals and Self Employed (IPSE) was set up for this exact purpose, its Corona campaign hub is here.

Search For Relevant Information

The team at Feast.It have also written a really useful checklist for those in the hospitality industry here.


It is undeniably tough out there at the moment, but try to think about new ways. The owner of the Cambridge Fruit Company who supply Cambridge offices with fruit got in touch with me two weeks ago in a state of panic, seeing his business disappear overnight. However, he has now been able to persuade customers to keep paying but donate their fruit to local NHS hospitals. It is an inspiring story of innovation and being able to help along the way.

Join my mailer

Navigating all the advice can be hard, I have also started a newsletter which comes out a couple of times a week and you can subscribe to here.  I’d love to do what I can to support businesses like yours where I can.

Jimmy McLoughlin was a Downing Street Adviser between 2016-19, his Twitter feed is @jimmym and you can sign up to his newsletter here.

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