Hospitality Ulster Reacts To Chancellor’s Autumn Statement
In today’s Autumn Statement, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivered a package aiming to grow the UK economy with 110 growth measures, including business tax cuts.
Reacting to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster, Colin Neill said: ‘Whilst it will take some time to digest the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, it is clear that what has been announced today will do little to change the fortunes of the hospitality industry.
‘Although we note the Chancellor’s extension of the 75% business rates relief for hospitality and leisure businesses, Northern Ireland faces the challenge of seeing any direct relief for our hospitality sector. When Westminster granted our English counterparts a 75% rates holiday last time, it generated a ‘Barnett Consequential’ for Northern Ireland. However, these funds were absorbed into our budget black hole rather than being passed on to the struggling businesses it was intended for.
‘We hoped to see more economic levers pulled to stimulate growth and support the sector as business owners continue to grapple with soaring energy and food costs. These are costs which our pubs and restaurants are only able to absorb for so long. Some have had already no choice but to pass them onto consumers, who are already squeezed in terms of disposable income.
‘The change to the minimum wage means that businesses will need some time to adjust. Business owners will need the headroom to work out where they get the money from to pay the wage increase.
‘This is why we urgently need to see a reduction in VAT from one of the highest VAT rates in Western Europe. As it stands, businesses are facing the difficult decision to reduce staffing levels and investment in the face of inadequate support from government.”
‘The busy Christmas period is upon us right now, and we need to see the return of the Executive to implement measures, including a hospitality strategy among a host of other actions, to provide much-needed support for the industry as the new year will come round quick.’