The Body Campaigning for Britain’s Takeaways
Ibrahim Dogus, Chair of the British Takeaway Campaign and Founder of the Kebab Awards
Our restaurants run on tight margins at the best of times, but soaring costs, rising bills and staff shortages are making things even more difficult. Never before has our industry been squeezed like this from so many directions. But if you can believe it, things could have been worse.
Last year the Government wanted to introduce a ban that would have prevented many of us from posting about our food on social media. The ban on online advertising of food high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) meant that the smallest businesses would have had no way to reach new or existing customers on Facebook or Instagram. It was ludicrous and unfair. Fortunately however, the Government agreed and introduced an exemption. Businesses with under 250 employees will not have to follow these stricter advertising rules when introduced in January 2023.
Instrumental to achieving that exemption, and other Government commitments like it, was the British Takeaway Campaign (BTC). Launched in 2017, the British Takeaway Campaign is an umbrella group representing all of us involved in the supply and preparation of the nation’s favourite foods. The Campaign’s aim is to ensure that everyone understands the economic, social and cultural contribution that our sector provides, and to help deliver change that will ensure our sector’s long-term success.
Despite the Government’s claims that the pandemic was coming to a close last year, the work of the Campaign was especially important. Although restrictions were ending and our sales largely stable, bills were skyrocketing, labour was scant, and competition was fierce. Behind the scenes the team, including myself and our Deputy Chair, Andrew Crook, President of the National Federation of Fish Friers, were meeting with MPs, putting pressure on government ministers, and hitting the airwaves. As the Chair of the Campaign, I may be bias, but the newspaper headlines and concessions from government we secured speak for themselves. Of course, we’re not out of the woods yet. Costs continue to grow, taxes are set to rise, and fraud is a problem, so we know we have our work cut out in 2022. But we do it because, like you, we know how difficult this job can be, but we also understand how rewarding it can be too.
In the near future, our members, such as The Bangladeshi Caterers Association, The Pizza, Pasta & Italian Food Association, and The Night Time Industries Association and others, are set to meet with the Small Business Minister, Paul Scully, to raise these issues with him. There’s no quick fix, but there are things that the government can do to ensure the health and prosperity of our sector, and the many people that work in it. This includes freezing VAT, ensuring businesses aren’t burdened with a ban on plastics without proper alternatives, and action on energy bills. We’re fighting for all of these and more. You can support the Campaign by engaging with us on Twitter, but we are also looking for case studies – restaurant owners able to tell their story to the press and Government. If you’d be interested in getting involved, please do get in touch. Our sector is vital to the health and vibrancy of Britain’s high streets and our economy, and is a cornerstone of our communities. By working together we can ensure it stays that way, whatever is thrown at us.