The mini-budget – how will it help Chiswick?

July 13, By Matt Smith & Pam O’Toole

Last week the Chancellor announced a raft of new spending measures to help alleviate the impact of Covid-19 on the wider economy.

The threshold for paying Stamp Duty has been temporarily increased from £125,000 to £500,000. The Job Retention Bonus means employers get a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed on 31 January 2021. VAT has been cut from 20% to 5% in the entertainment and hospitality sectors. The Government will also subsidise half-price restaurant meals served on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August, in the heavily publicised ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme.

The Chiswick Calendar has been speaking to local businesses to see how this so-called ‘mini-budget’ is affecting them.

Image above: Chancellor Rishi Sunak visiting The Bell & Crown last weekend.

Marmalade Jewellery, Turnham Green Terrace

Images above: Owner Simon Johnson; outside Marmalade Jewellers, Turnham Green Terrace

Simon Johnson owns Marmalade Jewellery. He and his wife have been frantically busy since their staff have been furloughed.

Simon says:

“The Job Retention Scheme Bonus, I think, will be a deciding factor on some roles definitely and we’re going to take as many leg-ups as we can get in the current market, it’s something that’s going to help… to a degree”.

“We need to stamp the virus out with firm and strong leadership. The misdirection and confusion over social distancing, regulations, mask wearing, over pretty much everything from the top-down is what’s going to keep this pandemic going for longer than it needs to”.

The giveaways from the Treasury are helping to keep the business afloat, he says, but they are by no means comfortable.

“Our business is not doing well. In fact, our business is clinging on by its finger tips. But it would be a lot worse if the Chancellor wasn’t doing such a good job”.

John D Wood & Co, Turnham Green Terrace

Julian Masson is manager of John D Wood & Co estate agents in Turnham Green Terrace. He says that the holiday in stamp duty has already had quite an impact.

“We’ve been quite a bit busier since the announcement was made last Wednesday (8 July). We’ve had a lot of new buyers who’ve come forward saying they want to take advantage of not having to pay the tax.

“This should make quite a difference to the sale of flats”, said Julian.

“The house market tends to be more resilient because at the higher end of the property market buyers are more financially stable. But it’s been harder for people buying less expensive properties, especially as lenders have been more stringent since Covid-19 and buyers have found it harder to get a mortgage.”

One client, who had previously put in a bid for a property which was not accepted as it was too low, has been able to increase their offer and may now get the property they want because they’re not having to pay the stamp duty they were expecting to have to pay, he told us.

Urban Pantry, Devonshire Road

Images above: Inside Urban Pantry, Urban Pantry’s team 

Kate Frobisher (second left, top row in the picture) is the owner of Urban Pantry. She’s hoping her business will benefit from the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.

“I think it will be good and hopefully boost our trade, because last week we had a really good week upon reopening but today hasn’t been very busy at all. So hopefully it will encourage people to come out.”

“The VAT decrease we want to pass onto the consumer so we’re going to reduce prices by a little bit… I haven’t decided what yet but just so people can come out without spending as much as well, so hopefully it will be beneficial.”

Urban Pantry’s core team, including Kate, were all on furlough over the lockdown period, and they’ve all returned since its re-opening.

Pho, Chiswick High Road

Images above: Outside and inside Pho on Chiswick High Rd

Libby Andrews is a spokesperson for Pho, the Vietnamese chain which has a branch on Chiswick High Road. She is is hopeful that the scheme announced in the budget will be good for footfall at Chiswick’s Pho.

“We certainly hope it will have a positive impact on people dining in Chiswick in August (our restaurant opens for eat-in again on July 24th). Hopefully the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme will mean Monday-Wednesday becomes the new weekend, with people enjoying their local restaurants even more often than before lockdown”

Parlé Pantry, Chiswick High Road

Image above: Inside Parlé Pantry

Dee Taylan runs Parlé Pantry with her sister Ruken, an organic café which serves coffee and organic food.

Dee thinks that the Chancellor’s ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ discount scheme is a great idea, but is confused about how it will work.

“When I heard of it I thought it’s a very good thing – but I couldn’t get a clear answer.  I tried to find out how it works. I don’t know who is eligible and who is not. I’m trying to find out if we could do this, which we want to, but I couldn’t find anything yet”.

La Tarantella, Elliot Road

Giuseppe Miola is the owner of La Tarantella. It’s one of the restaurants which is continuing with a mixed economy – continuing with takeaways and selling groceries as well as offering meals at the restaurant.

“We try to work in a different way. We’re still selling Italian groceries like we did during the COVID lockdown – beans, flour, tomatoes, unusual pastas that you don’t get in supermarkets and different brands” he said.

Not all of his staff have been brought back from furlough yet, he says, at the moment he is just playing it by ear.

“One of our part-timers is back and one of my pizza chefs is currently back, plus me and my partner – we never left. We’re taking it one week at a time. Maybe in two weeks’ time the government will say something different, we don’t know. At the moment we can’t plan anything.”

Giuseppe is eager to give the “Eat Out To Help Out” scheme a try, but like Dee and Ruken, isn’t sure about the logistics yet.

“We read about these things — a few people have come in to ask about it. We believe we can use it Monday to Wednesday in August so I’ll soon try to find how to apply for this. Why not try it! I’m still looking for where to apply. “

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Slowly does it – Chiswick reopens its pubs

See also: Chiswick’s churches reopen