Chancellor lines up visit to California . . . the Ipswich social club!

California Social Club

Will Chancellor Rishi Sunak be calling in at the California Social Club? - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Could Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak be paying a post-lockdown visit to California? Not the west coast of the US, but the social club in Ipswich's Foxhall Road!

He said he might be up for joining Ipswich MP Tom Hunt at the club during an exchange in the House of Commons, after Mr Hunt raised the issue of support for the hospitality industry in the town during a question time session.

But the Ipswich MP was also admonished by Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle for turning his 73-second question into a speech - which prompted Mr Sunak to praise Mr Hunt as: "A fantastic champion for his local hospitality industry."

Mr Hunt welcomed the grant support that the chancellor announced last week - but he pointed out that a number of publicans and restaurant owners still fear for the future of their establishments.

He sought assurances from the chancellor that he would be reflecting on what further support might be provided ahead of the budget - specifically regarding the potential extension of the business rates holiday throughout 2021, as well as an extension of the support on VAT.

He said: "There is a light at the end of the tunnel! But when we go into that much better place I want to make sure that all our great pubs, restaurants and social clubs like California that I am now a member of - a stakeholder of - are there with us."

The chancellor said he would bear in mind those suggestions on how the government can look at providing further support.

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He said: "I very much hope I have a chance to go and visit the California Social Club he mentioned in Ipswich at some point in the future and I will bear in mind the suggestions he made for what is a vital industry for our local communities."

He said that the industry employed two million people nationally and that it had borne the brunt of these restrictions - and so deserves support.

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