Autumn Statement: Industry responses to pub-friendly measures

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Business rates, Small business

The trade has welcomed measures to ease the burden of business rates
The trade has welcomed measures to ease the burden of business rates
The pub industry has responded to Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement, in which he has promised to ease the burden of business rates and extend small business rate relief.

Here's a round-up of the views from the trade.

Brigid Simmonds - chief executive, British Beer & Pub Association

“These are very positive steps on Business Rates, and the Chancellor was right to champion pubs in his speech. We welcome the Chancellor’s decision to extend Small Business Rate Relief which was one of the first objectives of the Better Rates for Pubs campaign. It shows real support from the Government for pubs, and that BBPA calls are being heeded.”

“It is also very good news for rural pubs that the proposed increase in fuel duty has been scrapped.

“The BBPA and our members are fully committed to working with HMRC and all stakeholders to tackle alcohol fraud. We have always welcomed HMRC’s proposals for wholesaler registration, which requires robust enforcement to be effective, alongside due diligence on first customer relationships.”

Kate Nicholls - strategic affairs director, Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers

“Business rates are a major burden on our members  - next April’s increase alone could have sucked £58m out of the sector. That is cash that would otherwise have been spent on our property and our people and so we have been campaigning hard this year to get politicians to understand that a tax on property and business is a tax on jobs and investment.

"We are delighted that the Chancellor has responded so positively to all our proposals and we look forward to working with him on the root and branch reform of the regime ahead of the next revaluation in 2017.

"We are also pleased that the Government has recognised the importance of pubs and casual dining to the health and well-being of our communities and in particular the high street. A vital and vibrant hospitality offer is key to attracting shoppers back to our high streets, encouraging them to stay longer and spend more in local shops, and to creating sustainable town centres.

"We hope the local planners and licensing officers take note of the Chancellor’s championing of hard working pub and restaurant operators. 

“The removal of the jobs tax for under 21s will be a boon to youth employment, investment in training and sustainable job creation in the licensed hospitality trade. This is a sector which offers jobs in all regions and at all skill levels – from entry level to graduate recruitment – and rapid career progression. It gives so many young people their first job and equips them with the transferable skills they need to succeed.

“We are delighted at the Government’s recognition of the hard work that licensed retailers do in every town in the country and the value of the jobs we create, delivering prosperity and adding value to every town and region in the country. We hope to continue and accelerate our job creation efforts and the removal of this tax on jobs can only be a good thing for the industry, for our staff and for the country.”

Mike Benner - chief executive, Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)

“CAMRA welcomes the Chancellor’s decision to cut business rate bills for the majority of pubs by £1,000. This is in addition to an extension of the current small business rate relief provisions for a further year. The Chancellor’s £1,000 windfall offers a vital lifeline for struggling licensees and will help keep pubs open."

"All but the largest community pubs will benefit from this £1,000 reduction in business rates and around a quarter will additionally gain from the retention of the current small business rate relief for another year. These decisions are key in helping secure the future of pubs and reverse a decade of decline which has seen more than 10,000 pubs close."

“Business rates are a growing burden on pubs and can account for around 30 pence per pub pint sold. Today’s announcement builds on the historic beer duty cut earlier this year and gives further cause for Britain’s 15 million pub goers to raise a glass to the Chancellor."

“We hope the Chancellor will continue his commitment to beer and pubs and the million jobs they support by freezing beer duty in next year’s Budget.”

John Webber - head of rating, Colliers International

“We at Colliers International have been lobbying to highlight the issue of compound interest and we, as a business ourselves, are grateful that George Osborne has demonstrated by capping the increase in Business Rate costs. However, underlying problems remain; empty rate charges, the postponement of the 2015 Revaluation and uncertainty for small business as to whether or not they’ll receive on-going rate relief for anything longer than a 12 month window.

“The current Business Rates system involves bandings, hurdles, caps etc.  which in my view should stay on the race course where punters can speculate their money away  – we’re striving for is a fair, simple system, one which British and global  business can invest in and build from, not just now but in the long-run, certainly longer than any single Party’s term in office.”

James Lowman - chief executive, Association of Convenience Stores

"The proposed cut in business rates is fantastic news, helping the vast majority of convenience store operators. This will help businesses to make investments in the next two years.

"We also support the cap on rates at 2% which we have advocated for a number of years. This will help businesses to plan for their costs over the long term, but only if it becomes a long-term commitment. 

"The reoccupation rate relief is also a strong short term incentive to bring empty properties back into use.

"We welcome the fact the Chancellor has listened to our concerns and will work to secure a fundamental review of rates, that is still necessary for the long term.

"The Chancellor's decision to remove employer NICs for all employees under 21 is a welcome move for local shops.  26% of staff in convenience stores are young workers, and this measure will give retailers more incentive to offer young people their first experiences of work."

Alexander Jackman - head of policy, Forum of Private Business

“There are some positive measures in today’s speech to help reduce the costs of doing business. With fuel duty frozen, £1,000 rebate on business rates and a subsidy on employing young people, there are measures worth thousands to small businesses. Within a time of constrained budgets, it’s good to see the Chancellor has listened to the concerns of small businesses around rising costs.

“Of course there are other issues not addressed directly today, but upon which work is ongoing. Top amongst these is energy prices. We are working hard to ensure members benefit from any reining back of green taxation.”

Ralph Findlay - CEO, Marston’s

“The Chancellor’s measures to alleviate the pain of high business rates are helpful. Pubs have suffered disproportionate increases in taxation in recent years, having seen beer duty rise by over 40% in five years, and a level of VAT which further suppresses consumer demand. In that context, relief on business rates is welcomed, but growth is still being stifled. A bigger opportunity to cut taxes should be a priority.

“Funding for apprenticeships is welcome: at Marston's we are creating about 1,500 jobs a year, mostly for young people, and urge the government to do more to stimulate growth.”

Julie Palmer - partner, Begbies Traynor

“Retailers and small business organisations have today seen the fruits of their lobbying labours, as the Chancellor announced additional breathing space with the capping of business rates at 2%, saving businesses an expected £300m in his Autumn Statement.

"Also announced was the extension of business rates relief for small businesses, the ability to pay rates in twelve monthly instalments and, for those which wish to expand, a reoccupation relief will be available for those moving into vacant town centre shops.

"This is clearly a move in the right direct to help struggling business owners and a welcomed step to regenerate the high street, but does it go far enough? Businesses have been subjected to an increase of almost 23% over the last five years, the highest in Europe, which has had a crippling effect on firms’ profits and competitiveness.

"The UK also faces a fundamental flaw in its draconian system which is in dire need of an overhaul to level the playing field with e-commerce businesses which, at the moment, are not affected by business rates. Whilst these short term measures will no doubt be hugely welcomed, they will do little to provide long term certainty for businesses, which could discourage capital spend and encourage cash hoarding, something the Government wants to avoid to aid economic growth.” 

John Cridland - director-general, Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

“We have always advocated the dual approach of tackling the deficit and driving growth – the OBR forecasts confirm it is working. Let’s stick with what works.

“The pressure on the high street has been recognised; the 2% cap on business rates and discount for very small businesses are positive, as is the reoccupation relief.

“Abolishing a jobs tax on employing young people under 21 will make a real difference and help tackle the scourge of youth unemployment.

“But it was a missed opportunity not to support our hard-pressed energy intensive businesses which are also struggling with rising costs, and the package on housing supply could have been more ambitious.

“As we enter the festive season, positive news on growth is clearly welcome but much remains to be done if the benefits of economic recovery are to reach every home in every corner of the UK.”

Matthew Clark - assurance senior associate, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC​)
"The Chancellor is proposing to introduce a new registration scheme for alcohol wholesalers to tighten control of the supply chain. According to the Treasury, 7% of UK alcohol is sold with no duty. The Treasury believe this measure will raise revenue of more than £200m per year.
"We don't have the details of how the scheme will work yet, but the key issue is that the level of penalties under the regime need to be set at the right level to discourage smuggling of this kind.  A fraudster can benefit by £80,000 - £120,000 in unpaid alcohol duty for the sale of a single HGV load of illicit booze.  If the penalties are set too low they will be seen as part of the cost of doing business rather than acting to stop the trade.
"Care must be taken to make sure that the regime does't capture legitimate businesses."

Rooney Anand - CEO, Greene King
“I watched today’s statement closely and am pleased to see that employer National Insurance contributions will be removed for under 21s, which is something that Greene King welcomes, as a major employer with over 22,000 employees across the UK,  of which over 5,000 are under 21.
“As a growing British business, the Chancellor’s announcement today gives us further support and confidence to continue to invest in young talent. This is an important step and will encourage us to hire more young people, to train them into a career in hospitality and to help our business to grow, which in turn further helps the economy. Coupled with the announcement on business rates, the Chancellor is listening to the suggestions coming from the business community.”

Ufi Ibrahim - CEO, British Hospitality Association (BHA)

“The abolition of NI contributions for those starting out is welcome news and will surely stimulate job creation in both the hospitality sector and beyond. The commitment of the hospitality and tourism industry to creating jobs and supporting young people is evident in the British Hospitality Association’s Big Hospitality Conversation​ which has shown the potential of creating new jobs, apprenticeships and work placements for young people, and increasing hospitality employment to 3 million by 2020. 

"The hospitality industry, which accounted for nearly one third of new jobs created between 2010 and 2012, has moved to be one of the top four employing sectors in the UK. 

"As well as incentivising businesses to employ young people, the Autumn Statement will help to control hospitality business costs by capping the increase in business rates in England at 2% in 2014-15.

"The BHA was also pleased to see plans to provide additional support to businesses in England including pubs, cafes and restaurants, through a business rates discount of up to £1,000 in 2014-15 and 2015-16 for retail properties with a rateable value of up to £50,000 and promised consultation on making change of use from retail to restaurants easier."

Tim Hulme- chief executive, BII

"I welcome the news that the Chancellor is taking the burden business rates have on small businesses seriously. The move will no doubt have a positive impact on the industry and those operating within it. I believe that continued assistance with cost control in the modern-day licensed trade environment in essential in helping licensees remain competitive in their battle to win their share of the leisure pound."

Andrew Buchanan - director of pub operations, Daniel Thwaites

“We welcome Chancellor George Osborne’s move offering a rebate of £1,000 to pubs with a rateable value of under £50,000 over the next two years. Whilst this is not enough to be of benefit to all pubs it is a big step in the right direction and will help to ease the financial pressure that business rates exert on the pub industry. Greater flexibility through the introduction of monthly installments of payment of business rates is also a welcome enhancement.

"It is also  very encouraging to see that the Government has recognised the significant role pubs and dining plays in helping communities and the high street to survive. A thriving hospitality offer is fundamental in attracting shoppers back to the high streets. By encouraging them to stay longer and spend more locally this will help to boost sustainability in our town centres.”   

James Thompson - head of business rates, Deloitte Real Estate

“The Chancellor’s announcements on the two per cent cap in business rates will be welcomed by retailers and businesses. This will result in a total cost saving of around £1bn to businesses over the next 12 months.

“Whilst some businesses will benefit from the postponement of the revaluation from 2015 to 2017, other businesses will suffer. Some high street retailers are paying more in business rates than the rental value of their shops. 

"The impact of this postponement is clear if we take the example of a retailer in major city shopping centre paying an annual rent of £275,000. With the two per cent cap, the bill for business rates for the coming year will be over £286,000*. However, the retailer would have expected this to be corrected by the 2015 revaluation to around £140,000. With the postponement of the revaluation until 2017 they are expecting their business rates bill to hit £300,000 before the 2017 revaluation gives them some relief.”

Marc Glazer - chief executive, Boost Capital

“While today’s Autumn Statement confirmed that the Government is serious about its commitment to help small businesses, the measures announced by The Chancellor only go some way in alleviating the pressures felt by small business owners. The cap on business rates and the amends to allow instalment payments of these rates, along with the introduction of reoccupation relief on vacant shops in town centres, will no doubt be welcomed by many business owners. 

"That said, there was no mention of help for those small businesses in the hospitality sector that are looking for funding to help them grow. In phasing out the Funding for Lending for mortgages and refocusing the scheme on small businesses, the Government seems to be hoping to increase bank lending to small businesses. So far, the scheme has had little success in doing this and only time will tell if this renewed focus does have the desired effect.

"Business owners need to be aware that there are alternative sources of funding available for their businesses. Boost Capital is committed to helping small businesses reach their growth potential by providing access to financing, without a prolonged, difficult process.”

To follow Osborne's Autumn Statement as it happened, take a look at our live coverage.

Related topics: Other operators, Legislation

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