Industry bodies call on Chancellor to help hospitality sector in Spring Statement
Restaurant bosses and industry bodies have written to the Chancellor ahead of Tuesday's Spring Statement calling for action on key issues affecting the hospitality sector.
The letter, signed by leaders including Steve Richards, CEO of the Casual Dining Group, Duncan Garrood, CEO of Bills, Bob Ivell, chairman of Mitchells & Butlers and Peter Borg Neal, CEO of Oakman Inns & Restaurants, warned that the sector is at a "tipping point".
It stated: "We need government action now to reduce the unnecessary costs of doing business if we are to avoid damaging closures and job losses."
A coalition of bodies, including UKHospitality, the British Beer and Pub Association, the Campaign for Real Ale and the Society for Independent Brewers, joined the industry leaders in urging Philip Hammond to undertake a review of business rates, consult on the possibility of a reduced VAT rate for hospitality businesses and to overhaul the excise duty system to promote the consumption of lower-strength drinks in licensed premises.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "With cost pressures continuing to squeeze many businesses and with the UK's withdrawal from the EU fast-approaching, the time is right for the government to provide decisive support for hospitality businesses.
"The government has indicated that it will provide the support we want, and that it will undertake a review on business rates, but pubs and restaurants are still overpaying £1 billion in year in rates. We want to see the government push ahead with its promised review and begin to fashion a regulatory system that supports hospitality businesses and supports growth.
"With Brexit on the horizon, the government has an opportunity to address sector concerns around VAT and instigate a duty regime that promotes hospitality businesses as well as addressing any concerns it may have regarding unsupervised consumption of higher-strength drinks.
"We hope the Chancellor accepts our offer to engage with the sector and provide pubs and hospitality businesses with the support they need to grow."
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: "I hope the government will consider this united call for a review of actions to help our sector. The business rates burden on pubs is particularly acute, paying 2.8% of all business rates while accounting for less than 1% of rateable turnover.
"British beer is also over-taxed, and while the duty freeze in the Autumn Budget was welcome there is still work to be done to protect a great British manufacturing industry. Of every £1 spent in a pub 34p goes to the taxman. We must take action to reduce the cumulative impact on our pubs which are so vital to their local communities."
Tuesday's Spring Statement marks a departure from the annual Spring Budget delivered for the last 20 years. Hammond has said that the statement will not be a"major fiscal event" but focus on long-term issues.
Reaction to the autumn Budget 2017: "rate relief not nearly enough">>
Autumn Budget 2017: Small pubs the big winners>>
Videos from The Caterer archives
Are you looking for a new role? See all the current hospitality vacancies available with The Caterer Jobs