2020 has been a tough year for everybody, they say we get one of these pandemics every few generations, I must have missed that memo! We have seen most of the world shut down and nine months on we still have severe restrictions in many areas. With the new variant being able to spread more quickly we may see some tough restrictions next year until we have the most vulnerable vaccinated. The NFFF will be there to represent the fish and chip industry to help get the support we need.
Our focus in December has been on the proposed ban on advertising High Fat Salt and Sugar (HFSS) foods. We met with the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to establish the scope of the proposed legislation and we will continue to lobby to get an exemption for small businesses into 2021. If this legislation goes through it will mean you cannot post any stories on social media featuring HFSS food. We feel this puts small businesses with minimal marketing budgets at a disadvantage as large national and multinational brands have the budget to find innovative ways to reach consumers.
VAT is always high up on the agenda for the NFFF. In January 2020 we wrote to the PM to highlight the unfair burden VAT places on hot food businesses. With many other trades with zero rated inputs and standard rate outputs they can enjoy a scheme called the margin scheme, paying VAT on the profits. Where this scheme may not be an easy fix for hospitality, we do feel it is time to sit around the table and try to find a taxation system that does not suffocate our industry and allows us to create jobs while also rewarding our employees for the hard work and unsociable hours they have to work. We believe by not overburdening the industry we can help the recovery of the economy. It is great to see shops making their MPs aware of the need for an extension to the VAT reduction thanks to the letter template produced by Stelios at Ceres. Government do like to hear from small businesses on issues but with many hotels and restaurants currently closed we decided that it is better to let other hospitality businesses take the lead on calls for the extension until the New Year. Once we are into 2021, even though we are likely to see further restrictions, we know there is more of an appetite from Government to look to recovery. We are planning some activity in Quarter One to support calls for an extension throughout 2021 which will give time for the sector to hopefully work with Government to help come up with a system that allows the sector to grow whilst also providing valuable revenue for the Treasury. We will hopefully be pulling together both operators and the supply sector to help on this sector wide initiative.
We managed to reopen our Training Academy to support the industry again. Its relaunch during the pandemic was born out of necessity with so many enquiries coming in from people about to start out in the business, we have also been able to support existing friers who wanted to polish up their skills. The training team, headed up by David Miller, have worked miracles using video calling to deliver the theory side of the course and then socially distanced practical sessions. The feedback we have received has been phenomenal and we have seen some amazing businesses launch. In 2021 we plan to further develop our training offering.
The Fish Friers Review was the first magazine written for the fish and chip industry; its first issue was way back in 1925. In December we launched our new digital site FishFriersReview.co.uk, not only will it enable us to get the latest news to you quickly, but it gives us the capability to share information about meetings we attend or initiatives we are working on. Fulfilling our NFFF roles while also running our own business can be difficult but we try to prioritise the important bit which is informing members on what we do and when we are doing it, quite often you presume people are aware. In 2021 we will be doing more to keep members up to date, not only were we the first fish and chip magazine but we like to be the first to innovate and evolve. Communication is going to be one of our key areas of focus but sometimes we cannot disclose everything we are working on or what is planned as it could prejudice our efforts, if there is something you would like us to get involved with or want to know if we are already working on it then please get in touch using the contact button at the bottom of the page.
2021 is likely to throw a few curve balls at us too but with the network we have we are well placed to help so please get in touch if you need any help. We have competed with huge change this year and together we can adapt and overcome whatever is thrown at us. The NFFF board work on a voluntary basis to represent the industry but we can only function thanks to membership. We were founded by a group of fish friers in 1913 who recognised that we were stronger when we have a united voice. There is strength in numbers and the NFFF is the only organisation that understands what the needs of the fish and chip industry are but we also now have the contacts in the wider takeaway and hospitality sector. The more members we have the stronger we are and the more we can do for the industry.
We hope you have had a great Christmas and hope you have a healthy and prosperous new year.
Andrew and the NFFF Board.