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Britain’s Takeaways after COVID, the Backbone of our High Street

The Labour Party Annual Conference 2021

SME4Labour & Labour Friends of Bangladesh Fringe: Britain’s Takeaways after COVID, the Backbone of our High Street

o Chair: Howard Dawber, Labour Friends of Bangladesh

o Speaker: Ibrahim Dogus, SME4Labour

o Speaker: Sarah Owen MP

o Speaker: Giles Derrington, Deliveroo

o Speaker: Cllr Rehana Ameer, City of London

o Speaker: Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London (Invited)

Event Summary:

Our event “Britain’s Takeaways After Covid: The Backbone of our High Street” considered the future of takeaways after Covid and involved a broad discussion on wide ranging issues including: the future of business rates, what more Government can do to help takeaways, the future of the high-street and more. Our panel of experts included: Chair – Howard Dawber of SME4Labour, Ibrahim Dogus – Chair of SME4Labour, Giles Derrington of Deliveroo, Councillor Rehana Ameer of the City of London, and Rajesh Agrawal – Deputy Mayor of London.

Our first speech came from Chair of SME4Labour Ibrahim Dogus who spoke in detail on a number of pressing issues facing SME’s including takeaways, explaining what more was required from Government to support SME’s in the context of their immense contribution to the UK economy. Dogus highlighted the considerable positive impact SME’s contribute to the UK economy, highlighting that SMEs make up 99.2% of all private sector businesses in the United Kingdom, employ over 14.4 million people with an estimated combined annual turnover of £1,600 billion, accounting for 48.1 percent of private sector turnover. Dogus highlighted the political space that the Labour Party could effectively occupy in the absence of coherent Government policy with regards to SMEs, considering the obvious natural links between the Labour movement, SMEs and family-owned businesses of which many takeaways are comprised. Dogus highlighted the Governments poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, commenting on the lack of support for many SME’s in the context of diminishing trade, suggesting the Labour Party would offer a far greater package of support for SMEs – including the recently announced policy of removing business rates from Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves. Dogus ended by considering what more the Government and Labour could do to support SMEs in the context of their hugely significant role both as part of the UK economy and society as a whole.

Our next speaker Giles Derrington of Deliveroo offered the business case for takeaways and the high-street, considering the ways in which Deliveroo sought to support the industry throughout the pandemic period as well as considering what more Government could do to effectively support the sector as the UK economy continues to recover from Covid19. Derrington spoke on a range of areas that Deliveroo sought to support takeaways in throughout the pandemic including arguing the case that all restaurants should be able to utilise delivery services – removing the distinction between takeaways and restaurants in order to ensure business throughout the pandemic. Derrington considered that Government could do more to ensure a clear regulatory environment within which takeaways could more easily continue to operate as the UK continues to grow out of the pandemic.

Two of our speakers Councillor Rehana Ameer of the City of London and SME4Labour, and Rajesh Agrawal – Deputy Mayor of London offered the experience of Local Government, outlining the steps Local Government took throughout the pandemic to support SMEs including takeaways. Councillor Rehana Ameer spoke at length at the steps she took as a local councillor to support businesses including rates relief, ensuring businesses had full support from Local Government as well as highlighting the extensive efforts of takeaways throughout the pandemic in protecting jobs and ensuring some continued normality as the pandemic raged. Ameer highlighted her own experiences as a small business owner, outlining the challenges she personally faced as well as offering extensive advice to the audience on the steps she took over the course of the pandemic.

Rajesh Agrawal – Deputy Mayor of London also spoke at length at the steps London took to support takeaways throughout the pandemic, outlining the considerable package of support offered to support takeaways throughout the pandemic – in recognition of the immense contribution takeaways make to London. Agrawal highlighted the steps London Mayor Sadiq Khan took including at the start of the pandemic calling a meeting with London’s business leaders to understand the unprecedented challenges that they faced – maintaining regular contact with key London business groups, trade bodies, investors and entrepreneurs to understand the immediate impact of COVID-19 to understand what businesses needed throughout the crisis and to restore confidence. Agrawal highlighted the additional steps taken by London Mayor including meeting of a group of key business stakeholders helped Agrawal and his team to keep the pan-London Strategic Co-ordination Group updated throughout the lockdown on the potential impact for businesses in London.

Our event offered a great chance to discuss what more is required to support takeaways as the UK moves out of the pandemic, exploring a range of issues including what more Government can do, how best the Labour Party can occupy the space the Government has failed to take up with regards to SMEs, the role of business and what support Local Government offered to takeaways throughout the pandemic. Our event highlighted takeaways are the backbone of our high-streets and more must be done to ensure their continued survival.

Britain’s Takeaways after COVID, the Backbone of our High Street

Howard Dawber has been the Managing Director of Strategy for Canary Wharf Group since 2004, working on projects at Canary Wharf, in Waterloo and in the City of London. Prior to Canary Wharf, Howard was a consultant to local authorities on major regeneration projects, including Liverpool and Newport. He is the Chair of the East End Community Foundation and a former Board Member of London & Partners

Ibrahim Dogus is an active Labour party member and the founder and director of the Centre for Turkey Studies, a non-party political forum and think tank focusing on Turkey; and Founder of the British Kebab Awards and the Centre for Kurdish Progress.

Ibrahim has been working as a community leader in the UK for many years supporting communities originating from Turkey and neighbouring countries. Prior to this, Ibrahim was director of several community-led projects in London and across the UK working for London’s vibrant and diverse community life.

Sarah Owen is a Labour Party politician and trade unionist. She has served as the MP for Luton North since 2019. Owen is British Chinese, making her the first Labour MP of East Asian descent, and the first female MP of Chinese descent.

Giles Derrington – Deliveroo, Head of Public Affairs – UK and Ireland

Rajesh Agrawal is the Deputy Mayor of London for Business. Born in India, Rajesh moved to London in 2001. As an entrepreneur he founded RationalFX in 2005, and Xendpay in 2014, both companies utilising technology to reduce the cost of international money transfer for businesses and individuals.

Rajesh is passionate about promoting entrepreneurship and creating opportunities for young people. He was appointed Chair of Oxfam’s Enterprise Development Programme in 2015 and has been a Patron of the Prince’s Trust for many years.

Cllr Rehana Ameer, City of London