The Automatic Vending Association (AVA) has called on local authorities and local members of parliament to support the ‘vital vending industry’ as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced up to £18,000 in grants for hospitality & leisure businesses and £6,000 in grants for retail businesses in the 2021 Budget today.
Across the country, AVA members have experienced resistance when seeking help from local authorities despite specific funds being allocated in the form of ‘Additional Restrictions Grants’ to support businesses impacted by closures in the leisure and hospitality sector.
Yet, late last month GOV.co.uk released shocking figures showing local authorities have been given £1.13 billion to fund ARGs, but have only paid out £143 million (12%).
For example in Leeds, local authorities have been give £15.8 million, with only £532,496 (3.3%) awarded so far.
Ensuring that keyworkers have access to food and drink while carrying out their essential work has been at the forefront of thinking for those in the vending and food-to-go industry since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With restaurants and canteens being forced to close the option to get food on the go has been a lifeline to those on the front line of fighting the virus and saving lives.
Chief executive of the Automatic Vending Association (AVA), David Llewellyn, said: “Vending is a vital lifeline for those working to get the UK through the pandemic and our members need support to continue to be there for our nation’s keyworkers. With canteens, leisure facilities and workplaces forced to close and numbers of those commuting cut significantly, vending has been severely impacted and as our data shows the level of impact is high.
“While products in other retail areas can be stored and sold at a later date, in the food and drink sector, expirations dates have passed during the forced closures resulting in further losses for these businesses.
“Food to go is an essential part of the food service industry, worth approximately £1.54bn to the UK economy, and without the support of funding now, these businesses will not be around when the world eventually goes back to normal.”
The call follows further assertions from the Chancellor this month that financial assistance is available to those who have seen revenues hit by the crisis however the vending industry and its contribution continues to suffer with 100% of suppliers and 75% of operators surveyed convinced that the Covid-19 crisis will change consumption habits at vending machines long term.