Making the most of a new Parliament

Ahead of the election UK hospitality trade bodies offered a mixed reaction to proposed measures are required to assist the sector.

Pledges made by the Conservative Party have the potential to help the nation’s hospitality sector, according to UKHospitality.

CEO Kate Nicholls said: “Employment costs, property taxes and skills are key challenges for hospitality if it is to add yet more economic value and employment to the UK.

She echoed the views of the entire sector saying a fundamental review of business rates is long overdue. “A commitment to cut the rates bills is certainly welcome and it is heartening to see pubs and music venues referenced in the context of reliefs – we wait with interest to hear further detail,” she said.

Last month the trade body published its wishlist for the incoming Government, arguing the industry can.
It calls on the new Parliament to unlock economic growth by rebalancing the business tax burden to reflect the modern digital economy by reforming the business rates system; boost skills and opportunities for our workforce; boost take-home pay for hospitality’s hardworking team members by removing the lowest paid from tax, doubling employer NIC thresholds and investing in training; and deliver on the tourism sector deal and supporting Tourism Enterprise Zones to unlock the potential of the sector as an employer and incentivise infrastructure investment.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “Hospitality businesses are integral to almost every community in the UK. Pubs, restaurants, cafes, hotels, nightclubs and more are features of villages, towns and city centres in every region. These businesses provide jobs and they provide investment. They are also at the centre of our social lives: these are the places we spend our leisure time with our family and friends.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) gave a cautious welcome to the Labour party’s proposals to list pubs as Assets of Community Value enabling community groups to buy local pubs under threat of closing; to replace business rates with a land value tax; to introduce four new bank holidays celebrating the four patron saints’ days; to review the evidence on the effect of minimum unit pricing of alcohol; and to label alcoholic drinks with “clear health warnings”.

Chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “When it comes to community pubs, what is needed is investment and support. It is important that measures to bolster the rights of individual communities to purchase pubs do not act as a disincentive to invest in or operate a pub business.
Given that seven in ten alcoholic drinks sold in a pub are beer, the most direct way of keeping pubs viable remains a cut in beer duty.

The current business rates system is hugely unfair on pubs, she said, given they pay 2.8% of the business rates bill, despite accounting for just 0.5% of turnover. A complete overhaul of the existing system is required, but at this stage it is not clear if Labour’s land value tax will directly help pubs.

Additional bank holidays will hopefully be a boost for the pub trade, and could be done in tandem with extended hours to give a further uplift.”

As an industry, we already clearly label our products with health information including alcohol units and ABV, as well as signposting to Drinkaware where the full guidance on low risk drinking can be found.

Meanwhile the association welcomed a pledge from the Conservative Party to introduce measures to help businesses.

The measures include cuts to business rates and National Insurance contributions and follow the publication of the BBPA’s manifesto for beer and pubs, which has called on the next Government to reform the current unfair business rates system, as well as implement other policies to help Britain’s brewers and publicans.

Emma McClarkin said: “We have been calling for the reform of the broken business rates system for many years. Pubs pay 2.8% of the business rates bill, despite accounting for just 0.5% of turnover. Reducing their rates is a very welcome move, helping pubs to keep their doors open until the fundamentally unfair system is overhauled.”

As an industry we employ over 900,000 people, but face sharply rising costs when it comes to employment. The pledge to cut National Insurance contributions is therefore most welcome, especially as the vast majority of pubs are run as small businesses.

She added: “Given that seven in ten alcoholic drinks sold in a pub are beer, the most direct way of keeping them viable is to cut beer duty, which we continue to call on the next Government to do.

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