Chancellor’s Budget doesn’t go far enough, warns hospitality body

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More “decisive and meaningful action” is needed to reduce burdens for licensed hospitality operators despite positive news for the industry in yesterday’s Budget Statement, a leading trade body has warned.

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) said it “welcomed” steps to reduce business rates burdens for businesses, but said the government still need to do more.

It also sounded a note of caution on the introduction of a tax on sugary drinks and has suggested that costs for retailers may increase as a result.

Chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: “The Chancellor has made some positive moves towards supporting businesses, and we welcome measures to reduce business rates burdens, but there is a risk that costs will continue to rise for employers.

“We need confirmation that the tax on sugary drinks will be a true levy on producers and not a sales tax that will increase costs for retailers. The Chancellor has indicated that there will be a consultation on its introduction and the ALMR will be looking to liaise with the Government to ensure that additional costs are not passed on to pubs and bars.

“Extension of Small Business Rate relief is a welcome first step in reducing rates burdens for businesses, but more needs to be done to address a system that currently sees pubs and bars paying 15 pence per pint in rates compared to about 1 penny per pint in supermarkets.

The ALMR said that changes to the administration of rates have been a long time coming. It has campaigned loudly for a switch to the CPI rating, but said it is still looking for the ‘once in a lifetime’, root and branch reform of business rates that continue to hamstring many businesses.

“A move to take the lowest paid out of income tax and the abolition of Class 2 NICs will succeed in putting more money in the pockets of consumers, but we are still looking for decisive and meaningful reform that will cut costs for businesses and free up money for investment in jobs and growth,” added Nicholls.

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