Wetherspoon has said that it will have to put up the price of meals in its pubs as like-for-like sales continued to slump despite the easing of pandemic restrictions.

In a trading update, the pub operator said the cost of food will need to increase by about 40p per meal if a VAT cut for the hospitality industry is not extended. VAT on food sold in pubs and restaurants was cut from 20 per cent to 5% during the pandemic to assist struggling hospitality firms, but is set to increase in stages to normal levels during the coming year.

Wetherspoon said its price increases would come into effect in September, when the tax is due to reach 12.5%.

The chain has also failed to see any bounce from the Euros, and now plans to seek debt waivers from its lenders for the coming financial year.

Like-for-like bar and food sales across its 860-strong estate were down by 49% between April 12 and May 16, when outdoor dining was allowed throughout much of the UK under restricted conditions. Though pubs thereafter began opening indoors, sales were still down 14.6% between May 17 and July 4.

Scottish electrical industry welcomes record number of apprentices


Employers across the country's electrical sector have appointed a record number of apprentices in 2021 despite the ongoing difficulties of the Covid pandemic.

Training bodies the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) and the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB) said 738 new entrants came into the industry this year, up nearly 50% on 2020 and in excess of the 700 that would be closer to a normal year's intake.

Both bodies praised employers for their positive attitude in such unprecedented circumstances and said that the figures highlight the attractiveness of the industry as a career opportunity.

“This really has been a remarkable year," SECTT chief executive Anne Galbraith said.

"We took on 500 apprentices in 2020 and we are taking on a further 738 starting in the Autumn of 2021. In a normal year, I would expect to take approximately 700 new starts, so this year has exceeded expectations and we are still only in July."

Fiona Harper, secretary of the SJIB, added: “It is clear that the future is electric and becoming an electrician is evolving into an aspiration for many young people, which is the way it should be.

“The industry as a whole is committed to the next generation of talent coming through, and employers are clearly supportive of creating a pool of highly-trained, highly-qualified personnel to take their business and the sector forward.”

Decision time on working from home in Scotland



Last week the job retention scheme began its gradual winding down, with no sign of the Chancellor changing his mind this time on calls for its extension.

On Monday the Prime Minister announced his government’s preference for a comprehensive removal of legal restrictions in England on July 19.

We obviously cannot declare the pandemic over but it would appear where a country’s vaccination programme is well advanced governmental responses are becoming less severe.

The UK Government’s final decision will be made next Monday but if they follow the Prime Minister’s roadmap then England will have seen the last of social distancing, capacity constraints, mandatory mask wearing and the home working default.

READ MORE: Stuart Patrick: Time to take economic harms to heart

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