The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has described the £300m relief announced in today's Budget to be provided across English local authorities to soften the blow of the proposed "massive increases" in business rates as "a tiny drop in the ocean".
Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the BHA, said: "We remain extremely worried that some small hospitality businesses, facing an average 23% rates increase, will be forced out of business. In addition the hike in alcohol duty will cancel out any headline grabbing relief on business rates with the Chancellor effectively robbing ‘Peter to pay Paul'.
"The Chancellor's move will do nothing to stop the valuation office being swamped with appeals - and there are still a massive 250,000 businesses waiting for a verdict on appeals made up to seven years ago."
Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that he had responded to the deep concerns among businesses with regards to the forthcoming increase in business rates. While he said he is unable to abolish the rates, which raised £25b a year, he unveiled three measures to help business which are expected to suffer from the increased financial burden:
1. All businesses which will lose the small business rate relief will not see their business rates bill increase by more than £50 per month next year.
2. All pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 will receive a discount on rates of £1,000 in 2017. This will benefit 90% of all pubs.
3. Local authorities will be awarded a £300m fund to provide discretionary relief for hard-hit businesses.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), was more supportive of the relief measures announced by the Chancellor, which specifically highlighted pubs.
"It is very encouraging to see the government acknowledge and back the valuable work being carried out by the UK's hardworking pubs, bars and restaurants," she said.
"Sector-specific relief will help those businesses hardest hit by the revaluation. This much-needed government support will save the sector over £24m and will help safeguard investment and jobs. We are pleased to see the government acknowledge the issue and act positively to support a crucial growth champion and a sector with turnover of £60b employing over 1.5 million."
Both the BHA and the ALMR have campaigned in recent months on securing support for businesses hardest hit by the forthcoming business rate increases.
Videos from The Caterer archives