Spring Budget "simply not enough", say pubcos

The chancellor has set up another difficult period for the industry.

Pub and bar operators have been reacting to the government's Spring Budget, as the chancellor set up another difficult period for the industry with a lack of action and support.

In his only mention of hospitality, Jeremy Hunt announced that the government is extending the alcohol duty freeze from August 2024 to 1 February 2025. The entire sector was hoping for a lot more.

"The government has once again kicked the can down the road rather than implement much-needed long-term support for the hospitality sector," says Simon Dodd, CEO of Young’s Pubs. "As an industry which contributes £93bn to the UK economy and employs 3.5m people, our role is critical to the country’s economy and local communities. Yet, many pub operators are still struggling for survival as they grapple with significant cost pressures and an excessive and unfair tax burden. 

"While we welcome the extension of the alcohol duty freeze, it is simply not enough to secure the long-term future of our sector and the livelihoods of the millions that work within it. To make a real difference, we absolutely need a sensible cut to VAT and reform of business rates."

Cost of doing business

Nick Mackenzie, CEO of Greene King (pictured), also says that a freeze in alcohol duty is welcome, but it is significantly outweighed by the continuing increases in the cost of doing business.

"Rising business rates and wages continue to disproportionately impact pubs, therefore it is disappointing the chancellor has, once again, missed opportunities to reduce VAT for hospitality and reform the rates system.

"We’ve invested heavily in our pubs and our teams, bringing long-term social value to communities across the UK. But the sector needs wider regulatory reform if it is to continue to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and support the nation's economic growth."

Ahead of the Budget, more than 100 hospitality operators signed an open letter to the chancellor, urging the government to take immediate action at the Budget announcement on 6 March to prevent further business failure. 

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