Hospitality disappointed by latest UK budget

Tafarn Cymraeg: one of Wales’ many pubs (Picture: Maidah Khan)

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) will voice their disappointment following UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s announcement of the budget, today.

A primary concern for night time businesses has been their difficulty in managing energy bills, a topic that was not mentioned by Mr Hunt during his budget speech.

The main change implemented by the Minister was the freezing of the VAT on average strength draught beer, ensuring that pubs will always pay less tax on a pint than a supermarket. The Chancellor said: “British ale is warm but the duty on a price is frozen”.

A report by the NTIA from February 2023 highlighted their key concerns leading up to the budget.

What did hospitality bosses want?

  • A reduction of VAT to help businesses deal with the high energy prices businesses are facing, to stimulate growth and cut costs.
  • Instructions for OFGEM to intervene and instruct suppliers to renegotiate inflated contracts.
  • Increased focus on helping people into employment, easing the stress caused by limited workforces.

In the week leading up to the budget announcement Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA, reacted to a letter sent from the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets to the Chancellor. Kill said: “This letter from OFGEM to the Government today outlines our ongoing concerns with regard to the conduct of these energy firms. Highlighting over inflated contract rates, service charges and security deposits.”

And when the budget came out on the 15th March his worst fears were realised as pub owners were left with no option but to continue paying what they believe to be over-inflated rates on their energy bills.

Sacha Lord, Chair of the NTIA, took to Twitter following the announcement to say: “As support tapers off for business from the end of March, it will create a sinkhole of financial difficulty for operators.”

Research carried out at the end of 2022 by real estate adviser Altus group found that more than 32 pubs closed in England and Wales each month in 2022, as the costly energy bills proved too much for them.

The figures found that 50 of these pubs were Welsh.

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