Operators urge government to ‘deliver on business rates reform’

All Bar One New Street

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers has welcomed the extension of business rates relief for another year following yesterday’s Autumn Budget announcement, but reminded the government of the need to implement a “root and branch reform” to bring about a fairer deal for licensed hospitality businesses.

The ALMR has also sounded a note of warning over the introduction of an Apprenticeship Levy and warned that additional costs burdens are likely to affect existing training budgets. The ALMR has also welcomed the decision not to cut police budgets.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The extension of the small business rate relief for another year is certainly welcome as this is something the ALMR has consistently pushed for. It is disappointing, however, to see that once again we are in a position of urging the Government to hasten with real and meaningful change to the business rates system and to bring about root and branch reform.

“This is increasingly a system that sees business relying on multiple discounts and allowances and is a recipe for confusion or avoidance, something the Treasury has already highlighted. The licensed hospitality sector is carrying an enormous burden in the shape of business rates, with pubs accounting for 2.8% of all UK tax receipts; a situation that is plainly unfair and unsustainable for some businesses. The Chancellor indicated that the review of business rates will report at next year’s Budget Statement and we are hopeful that it will bring with it good news for the sector.”

Nicholls said the ALMR was also concerned that the forthcoming apprenticeship levy will place further costs burdens on businesses already facing shrinking margins.

“The ALMR’s Benchmarking Report shows that in labour intensive businesses such as pubs and bars, payroll costs often account for over half of all operating costs and almost one-third of turnover. This extra tax is may well have the effect of distorting payroll costs even further and is likely to undermine in-work investment and training in staff.”

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