Lack of business energy support in Spring Budget leaves industry in ‘unsustainable predicament'

15 March 2023 by
Lack of business energy support in Spring Budget leaves industry in ‘unsustainable predicament'

Hospitality businesses have expressed their disappointment that the Spring Budget failed to recognise immediate concerns over rising energy bills.

The chancellor confirmed an energy price guarantee for households, but did not mention any extension of support for businesses.

Some businesses owners have stopped paying their own wages as a result of ongoing concerns over spiralling energy costs.

Stronger reactions of disapproval were seen on Twitter, with Andy Lennox, hospitality campaigner at Wonky Table and the Burnt Chef Project, tweeting: "Hospitality can't take anything away from this budget. Utter shambles for our industry."

Speaking to The Caterer, Charlie Phillips, founder of restaurant group Morty & Bob's, which operates three sites across London, said: "A lot of the other stuff doesn't really affect me too much. The main thing for me is the ‘not going into recession' and the morale boost that will do for our customers."

"There wasn't really much clear information on the energy perks from the government, which will have the most impact on our expansion and affordability of each site. If we lost that [support], monthly outgoings would be double for our utilities, so obviously it will have a huge impact on the bottom line."

Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, added: "The tapering off of business energy support from the end of March has been forecasted to add £4.5b to bills compared to the current scheme, and simply put, this will place the industry in an unsustainable predicament and create a sinkhole of financial difficulty for venues across the sector."

Martin McTague, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), commented: "We've got a Budget that on energy helps households but not small firms. On business taxes, it spends £27b extra on big businesses, arguing that small businesses are already catered for. This will leave to a feeling of being left behind instead of being considered equal partners in economic recovery – trickledown economics here simply does not work."

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, pointed out that the freeze on draught beer duty was "positive" and hoped it would "incentivise more visits to our pubs, restaurants and hotel bars".

She said: "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."

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), added that the Budget's policies on encouraging the over-50s back into work "is all positive but it doesn't help us now when some businesses are unable to open every day due to staff shortages".

Read the full story on the Spring Budget.

TagsBudget and Energy
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