Commenting on reports that Hammond is set to announce plans to cut business rates bills for small retailers, and that he will also unveil changes to allow weddings to take place in more venues, Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, stated that mere tinkering will not end high street woes.
Nicholls added: “Of course, we welcome any measures to ease the shockingly high costs that face hospitality operators face.
“But these steps alone would be akin to tackling a forest fire with a water pistol – the Budget must deliver much more if high streets across Britain are to reverse the acute downturn we are witnessing.
“These measures ignore the fact that the current system doesn't properly assess small businesses. This is the flaw in the whole system – rateable value does not reflect profitability.
“Reliefs for business rates sufferers may be the only immediate step available but the only ways to build confidence and investment in the longer term is a radical overhaul of the business rates system and measures to level the playing field between digital and other businesses.
“These are central asks of our Aim High campaign.
“Similarly, enabling more venues to host weddings is something many businesses will appreciate but rather ignores the scale of attention the underlying causes of high street decline urgently needs.
“It is rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
“Tinkering will get us nowhere – it’s time for fundamental change to save high streets and allow hospitality to grow and generate prosperity for Britain."
Nicholls’s comments follow warning from UKHospitality that more than half-a-million hospitality jobs will be at risk if the Government doesn’t take urgent action on business taxation in his last Budget statement before Brexit.
Moreover, a coalition of leading hospitality businesses have also written to Chancellor Philip Hammond to call for targeted support for the sector.