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Business rate revaluation brought forward but sector slams ‘missed opportunity’

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Business rate revaluation brought forward but sector slams ‘missed opportunity’

Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced the next business rate revaluation will be brought forward to 2021 in his Spring Statement.

In his autumn budget, the Chancellor announced that business rate revaluations will take place every three years instead of every five, which will now start from 2021 instead of 2022.

However, industry body UKHospitality has calling the Statement a “missed opportunity”.

Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “There are some tentative steps here to support the sector but this is a missed opportunity to provide the decisive and positive action on business rates that hospitality desperately needs, and for which we have been calling.

“Bringing forward the revaluation will not provide the immediate support that businesses need unless it is accompanied by widescale reform beforehand.”

Founder and chief executive of Oakman Inns pub group Peter Borg-Neal added: “Business rates is an urgent issue but it has again been kicked into the long grass. The decision to bring forward the revaluation is of little use unless there is some meaningful reform to business taxation over the next couple of years. There is mild encouragement that they are considering ways of taxing digital business but action is needed quickly to correct the unfair tax burden on hospitality and on other retailers.”

John Webber, head of business rates at real estates company Colliers  International, said today’s move was like “putting a plaster on a gunshot wound”. He explained: “This is all very well and good, but it does nothing to help those businesses, particularly the retailers and restaurant operators who are struggling with the system today.”

The Chancellor also said £80m will be released to help small businesses take on apprentices following the government’s commitment to hit three million apprenticeships by 2020. From next month £50m will also be available to help employers roll out placements for T-Level students studying technical and practical subjects, with the first T-Level courses launching in 2020.

He revealed that the UK economy grew 1.7% in 2017, compared to the 1.5% that was forecast, and the Office for Budget Responsibility has revised up its forecast for 2018 from 1.4% to 1.5%. The forecast for 2019 and 2020 remains unchanged at 1.3%, with 1.4% expected in 2021 and 1.5% in 2022.

Following up on the issue of single-use plastic, which Hammond said the government would be investigating last year, he called for evidence on tackling the issue and said the government will be awarding £20m to businesses and universities to “stimulate new thinking” in this area.

Borg-Neal described the announcement as the “best news” to come out of today’s statement, adding: “Having led the campaign to get rid of plastic straws we will now widen the scope of our ambition and look to entirely rid our business, and that of our supplier community, of all single use plastics. My only fear is that the Government will look at this as an opportunity to tax punitively rather than do the right thing by incentivising those who do take action.”

Hammond also told the House of Commons that inflation is expected to fall back to target over the next 12 months. Foodservice price inflation fell to 2.5% in January, bringing inflation in the sector broadly in line with wider levels of UK inflation.

Today’s Spring Statement marked a departure from the annual Spring Budget delivered for the last 20 years. Hammond had warned that it would not be a “major fiscal event” and he focused on financial forecasts, with few new policies outlined.

Industry bodies call on Chancellor to help hospitality sector in Spring Statement >>

Reaction to the autumn Budget 2017: “rate relief not nearly enough” >>

Autumn Budget 2017: Small pubs the big winners >>

Foodservice price inflation falls to lowest point since early 2017 >>

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