Responding to the Chancellor’s Spring Budget, UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said, “With hospitality businesses continuing to struggle with vacancies running at 56% higher than pre-pandemic levels, the measures announced in the Budget are significant in incentivising people back into work and hopefully alleviating crippling labour shortages.
'The wider economic forecasts also give us encouragement that consumer confidence and spending are in for an upturn, albeit over time.
“The significant reforms to childcare and the measures to help the over 50s re-enter the workforce are both areas on which UKHospitality has been calling for action and we’re pleased the Chancellor has recognised the help it can offer tackling the enormous vacancies in hospitality.'
Kate went on, “Maintaining current levels of energy support to consumers, freezing fuel duty and inflation reducing will help hard-pressed households and increase disposable income, which will be a huge boost for venues in desperate need of trade.
“This will be particularly needed as the sector is still set to see huge energy price increases when current support ends in April, which unfortunately was not addressed. It remains the case that we need to see urgent action on the market failures identified by Ofgem in its non-domestic review update yesterday. The current timeline of further action by the summer is not good enough.
“The reduction in draught duty is positive and we hope this will incentivise more visits to our pubs, restaurants and hotel bars. Addressing draught duty is a good start and I would urge the Government to consider rolling out this type of tax cut across the wider drinks market.
“With duty primarily paid by suppliers, such as breweries, it’s essential that any benefit is passed through to venues to help deliver the Government’s objective of reducing inflation and growing the economy,” Kate finished.
Adding her comment, Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said, “This Budget was a make or break moment for pubs and brewers who have been running out of road for too long, and whilst the Chancellor’s efforts to support our pubs and breweries are welcome, we look forward to seeing how the “Brexit Pubs Guarantee” will deliver for our sector.
“The cut to draught duty as part of the alcohol duty reform is positive and we hope that it will result in a boost for our pubs this summer.
“However, the fact is, our industry will be facing an overall tax hike not a reduction come August. Duty on non-draught beer will rise and the measures introduced today won’t rebalance the catastrophic impact soaring inflation and unfair energy contracts are having on both pubs and the breweries that supply them.'
Emmas continued, “As the 1st of April rapidly approaches, businesses are also nervously awaiting what’s next for their energy costs, and a lack of support in today’s announcement will have a direct impact on their ability to keep their lights on and doors open.
“We need the Chancellor to unlock growth opportunities for businesses of all shapes and sizes. We look forward to seeing how his measures on investment, people and skills will lay the foundations to allow our pubs and breweries to continue to create jobs and help regenerate local economies in every part of the country.
“The Chancellor highlighted how our pubs are the most treasured community institution, and we appreciate his efforts to provide some relief,' Emmma said, 'but a lack of immediate support in today’s Budget will still put the future of many of them at risk.
“Having recognised the importance of our pubs and brewers, we look forward to working with the Government to resolve the fundamental issues holding our pubs and breweries back, including reforming business rates and reducing the unfair tax burden on our sector.'
Emmas concluded, “It is still tough out there for our pubs and breweries and so we’re encouraging people to get out and support their much-loved locals.”