Having previously been heralded as the shining knight for the pub sector at the start of the crisis, that armour is starting to look more than a little rusty, and the absence of any mention of VAT immediately set alarm bells ringing.
The small glimmers of positive thinking, driven by hard campaigning from the trade associations on the benefits of holding VAT at 12.5% (and the fact that, well, it was common sense, wasn’t it?), were quickly snuffed out as the Government returned to its pre-pandemic form of treating the hospitality sector with complete indifference.
So, once again, we’re on our own - we’re faced with the ongoing issue of over-taxation and a Government that, ironically, is going to be relying heavily on the taxes we’re collecting for them to dig them out of the economic hole we find ourselves in. Thank god none of that tax money was wasted on dodgy PPE contracts… oh wait…
So it’s a return to the status quo - we’re fending for ourselves and we’re facing some pretty challenging circumstances.
But we’ve just come through a period in which you couldn’t trade and faced zero income - and we’ve survived that.
At least now we can trade, and if I was going to back any sector to battle, survive and thrive in the face of impossible odds, it’s this one.
It’s not going to be easy, it’s probably not going to be pretty, and we may not quite enjoy it as much as we’d like, but we will find ways to adapt, to evolve our offer and survive and I suspect, in many cases thrive. It’s what this sector does.
So before we get too caught up in the doom and gloom of the current outlook, let’s remember that - we are an industry of survivors, fighters and grafters, and most importantly, we’re open and trading - we didn’t have that 18 months ago.