The Chancellor announced that retailers and restaurateurs, including pubs, with a rateable value of less than £51k will have their business rate bills cut by a third over the next two years.
BII CEO, Mike Clist comments on the impact it will have on pubs:
“We are delighted to hear that business rates have been cut by one third for many of our members running businesses with a rateable value of under £51k. This will provide much needed help to the most vulnerable pubs in our communities. In the longer term, root-and-branch business rate reform will be required to tackle the disparity between high street businesses and online retailers.”
UKHospitality praised the positive moves but said they needed to be a springboard for further business rates reform. Chief Executive, Kate Nicholls said “If the Government is serious about updating the rates system then we still need to see a thorough, root and branch reform of the whole system to ensure it is fair and fit for purpose in the 21st Century”
Duty on beer, cider and spirits has been frozen; the Chancellor Phillip Hammond commented:
“I have received numerous representations from my honorable and right honorable friends on one particular subject and in response I will be freezing beer and cider duty for the next year, keeping the cost of beer down for patrons of the great British pub”.
The freeze on duty for beer, cider and spirits was unexpected, but very welcome, and it is expected to provide a much needed boost to the hospitality industry.
The Society of Independent Brewers Chief Executive Mike Benner said that the Chancellor would be toasted with a pint of British Independently-brewed beer. “A freeze in beer duty is good news for UK brewers, publicans and beer drinkers. A planned rise in line with inflation would have meant a £100m hit to Britain’s brewers.”
However, a different reaction was had by The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) in response to the increase in wine rates. Effective from the 1st February 2019, it is estimated that the price of a bottle of wine will go up by 7p, sparkling wine by 9p and an average bottle of fortified wine by 9p. One top of this, VAT will add a further 20% to the cost.
The WSTA said Hammond had “closed himself off to the concerns of our world leading industry and is widely out of touch with British consumers”.
WSTA Chief Executive Miles Beal commented “It actively undermines a sector that has been hardest hit since the Brexit referendum and will be thoroughly unwelcome for the 33m consumers of the nation’s most popular alcoholic drink”.
The National Living Wage (NLW), the obligatory minimum amount paid to workers aged 25 and over, will rise 38p too £8.21 per hour next April. This amounts to an annual increase of around £690 for full-time workers.
The amount paid by smaller businesses to the apprenticeship levy had been halved by 5%. The Chancellor also extended the minimum qualifying period for entrepreneurs relief from 12 months to two years.
In response to this year’s Autumn budget, BII CEO Mike Clist summarises his thoughts “We believe that the help our industry has been given by the Chancellor in the Autumn Budget is a direct result of all the organisations and associations within our great sector, joining together as one voice behind the #longlivethelocal campaign.”