'Biz rates and apprenticeship levy reform must be prioritised'

By The Morning Advertiser

- Last updated on GMT

General election 2024: live blog
General election 2024: live blog

Related tags Legislation Government Events

Welcome to the Morning Advertiser's (MA) live coverage of the general election, detailing the latest updates for the sector as they happen.
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That's all from the MA's​ live election coverage, keep up to the date with the latest sector news on our website​.

5:02PM - Kate Nicholls thanks outgoing MPs

UKHospitality (UKH) chief executive Kate Nicholls has thanked outgoing MPs for their support as the nation welcomes a new Government.

4:49PM - WSTA calls for Labour to "cut red tape" on growth

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has called on Labour to work with the industry to "promote growth, cut red tape and deliver an environmentally sustainable" agenda.

In 2022 the UK wine and spirit industry supported 413,000 jobs, generated £22.6bn in Gross Value Added and contributed £76.3bn in economic activity, according to the association. 

However, the WTSTA warned if urgent action isn’t taken to halt "unnecessary changes" to taxing wine and to clear up confusion over waste packaging regulations - businesses will be suffocated by complex and costly administration.

The new measures – devised and brought in by Rishi Sunak when he was Chancellor - have been described as “un-administrable” and “sheer lunacy” by WSTA members and would come on top of the largest alcohol duty hikes in almost 50 years.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “We are looking forward to working with a new administration that has rightly called for closer partnership between business and Government to deliver economic growth.  

"It feels like a fresh chapter and a chance to move away from the increasingly disconnected and heavy-handed approach of the previous Government towards a closer and more collaborative working partnership with Labour.

"Labour has pledged to support business with a stable policy environment and an approach to business taxation that allows long-term planning.

"We agree and are calling on new Ministers to stick to these principles for then lifetime of the new Parliament – starting with making permanent the temporary easement for wine duty and delaying the ‘Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)’ scheme to ensure it is fit for purpose.

"The new Government needs to demonstrate quickly its commitment to deliver the stability that they have promised for business by answering calls from our industry for support, partnership and clarity."

3:35PM - Tim Bird says election results "no real shock"


Shortly after Rishi Sunak departed from No.10 and Keir Starmer made his first speech as Prime Minister, owner of Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars, Tim Bird, tells the MA​ nothing will “compensate” the sector for the profit losses that will ensue if business rates relief ends next April.

Bird said: “No real shocks in the election. As things stand, we have got what has been expected for months. The key will be how far up the priority list our industry is on Labour’s new ‘action list’.

“Sadly, I cannot see us being on page one of their ‘list’. The industry bodies need to keep ‘banging on the door’.

“If business rates revert to ‘normal’ in April 2025, we will all see a sizeable chunk of profit disappear with nothing to compensate us for the loss and with Labour’s plan on the Living Wage/Minimum wage next year many in the hospitality Industry will suffer greatly.

“On a personal note, I am delighted the MP’s who have their constituencies around our Cheshire pubs have all retained their seats. This means great continuity for us.

“We do not need to forge new relationships thankfully and I am confident they will continue to fight our corner locally to ensure pubs get good support in the House of Commons.”

1:14PM - BBPA: "We encourage MPs to reward themselves with a  pint in their local"

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has "warmly welcomed" Labour's Government and encouraged MPs to enjoy a "well deserved pint or two" this weekend. 

BBPA CEO Emma McClarkin said: “We have long worked with the Labour Party as they have developed their plans for supporting the British pub and brewing industry, and are encouraged by the enthusiasm Keir Starmer and his cabinet have shown in recognising its importance to communities up and down the country. 

“It is imperative for any Government to provide a sustainable and proportionate fiscal and regulatory framework that allows the sector to thrive. It must now cut beer duty and urgently reform business rates for the sector. 

“We encourage all MPs to reward themselves with a well earned pint or two in their local this weekend, and to get to know their landlords and brewers.”

11:58AM - SLTA outlines key asks from new Gov

The SLTA (Scottish Licensed Trade Association) has outlined its wish list for the new Labour UK Government following the general election.

Key asks from the SLTA include:

•             A reduction of VAT for the licensed hospitality industry

•             A long-overdue review of the commercial rating system

•             A pledge on no duty increases and duty differential

•             A relaxation of immigration restriction/Scottish passport

•             No business or personal taxation rises, mitigation support for increased labour costs and capping non-domestic energy prices

SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson commented: “Nothing on our wish list is new – it’s what we’ve been calling for over many years now.

“However, the general election presents us with an opportunity to reiterate to the new UK Government that the licensed trade and hospitality sectors really do need some help.
“We particularly highlight the need for the UK Government to reduce VAT for licensed hospitality businesses.

“The temporary reduction of VAT from 20% to 5% introduced in July 2020 gave support to around 150,000 businesses in the UK and protected over 2.4 million jobs in the overall hospitality and tourism sectors and saved many businesses from going under during a very difficult trading period.

“While we are now past the Covid-19 pandemic, the unprecedented rises in inflation, business operating costs – particularly food and energy costs – and severe staff shortages mean the current trading conditions are seen as just as challenging, if not more challenging, than during the pandemic.”

11:25AM - Sacha Lord: "we can’t expect overnight change"


Reacting to the election results, Night-Time Economy (NTE) Adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord has welcomed the new Government but warned we can’t expect “overnight change”.

He said: “These results are beyond our expectations, and I am personally extremely pleased. At last, change is here.

“The message is clear - the people of the UK want a Government they can trust, can deliver on their promises and rebuild the economy to make the lives of working people better.

“The challenges our hospitality industry face are stark and while we can’t expect overnight change, this vote should give our sector a confidence boost. But there is a lot to do, not only in hospitality, but for business owners and hard-working employees across the country. 

"I will be hoping to see a greater level of support for the industry over the coming months and as an industry we should continue to hold those in power to account.”

11:14AM - CAMRA urges Labour to implement manifesto pledges 

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has shared hope Labour will implement the proposals for pubs laid out during the election campaign “as soon as possible”.

CAMRA Chairman Nik Antona said: “It was heartening to hear Labour’s announcement of a five-point plan to “end the decline of British locals” during their election campaigning, and I hope they will implement these proposals as soon as possible.”

Antona added the organisation would campaigning for “improved consumer rights” and push the Government to give customers a right to information about drinks on the bar and the introduction of a new consumer right to a full pint.

“We hope the new Labour Government will recognise the need for independent producers to have better access to the pub market, with is currently heavily dominated by larger corporations”, he continued.

In addition, the chairman said CAMRA would continue to fight for fairer taxes for the sector including a VAT reduction on beer and cider sold in pubs as well as business rates reformation.

He also shared hope Labour would improve planning protection and enforcement to protect pubs from “unfair demolition” alongside the introduction of plans to allow communities to buy local assets, such as pubs.

10:55am - BII calls for tax burden on sector to be tackled 

The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has urged Labour to recognise the "hugely unfair tax burden" on pubs.

BII CEO Steve Alton commented: “We are now looking forward to working with the new Government, to gain the vital investment that our members need to unlock their full potential.

“Our pubs are unique in their contribution, bringing huge economic impact, accessible, skilled jobs in every local community across the UK, and provide vital social value.

“The new Government must recognise the hugely unfair tax burden that our sector, and particularly small, independent businesses have shouldered for decades."

The CEO added the trade body would continue to work with ministers to ensure continuation of the current business rates relief due to end in March 2025 as well as a "full reform of the outdated and unfair rates system".

Moreover, Alton said two in three independent pubs were operating at a loss or breaking even, highlighting the clear need for investment in the sector.

He continued: “If pubs are unable to thrive, we stand to lose so much more than small businesses in their communities.

“We lose assets of immeasurable social value, connecting and caring for local people, reducing loneliness, raising millions for charity and so much more.

“We will continue to encourage our members to share their challenges with local MPs, showing them not only the support that is needed also the essential and unique part they play in local economies, employment, supply chains and tax revenue into the Treasury.”

10:37AM - SIBA “ready” to work with new Government

The Society of Independent Brewers and Associates (SIBA), has welcomed the new Government following the decisive win for Keir Starmer’s Labour Party.

SIBA chief executive Andy Slee said: “The people of the UK have clearly spoken for the need for change.

“SIBA stands ready, and looks forward to working with the new Government in Westminster and across the U.K. in helping independent brewers be a part of their plans for sustainable economic growth.
“Independent breweries are a hugely valued force for good in local communities and right now, more than ever, need support to compete against the global beer giants that control the market, as well a tax system which sets a level playing field for pub and brewing businesses to grow.”

10:33AM - NTIA: “Real work starts now”

The Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) has welcomed the change in Government but urged the “real work starts now”.

NTIA CEO Michael Kill said Labour’s “commitment” the sector was “appreciated”.

He continued: “However, the real work begins now. Our industry faces serious challenges and needs urgent attention to recover from years of neglect through the cost-of-living crisis and the pandemic.

“The night-time economy thrives on a dynamic young workforce and consumer base whose energy and creativity are indispensable.

“Their involvement is vital for our industry's success and shaping future voters. We must foster their engagement, as a priority and address their needs to ensure a thriving and inclusive nightlife sector.”

Kill added the sector must “rebuild” with the Labour Government after years of feeling “misunderstood and undervalued”.

“We must address tax disparity, reform business rates, protect independent operators, and align VAT with European standards. We also urge the new Government to appoint a dedicated  Minister for the Night Time Economy.

“The new Government needs to prioritise meaningful policy changes, strategic and targeted financial support, and collaborative efforts to shape the future of nightlife. This will ensure a sustainable and thriving future for night time industries. 

“Together, we can create a robust and vibrant nightlife economy that benefits communities and drives economic growth. The NTIA stands ready to work with you to achieve these goals."

9:20AM - Admiral boss joins calls for business rates reform


Admiral Tavern chief executive Chris Jowsey has said he is "looking forward" to working with the new Labour Government.

He said:"We look forward to working with the new Government to ensure pubs get the recognition they deserve for all the hard work they put into communities across the UK.

"Not only are pubs an engine for economic growth, contributing £26.2bn to the UK economy each year and supporting 936,000 jobs, they are the cornerstone of British life and have been bringing people together for centuries so it’s essential that we continue to facilitate such an important part of community life. 

"We urge the Government to provide an overhaul of the business rates system, introduce beer duty reforms and a cut on employer national insurance to help facilitate the growth of long-term, sustainable pubs that sit at the heart of their communities and support all aspects of local life."

Friday 5 July 9AM - 'New Gov must prioritise biz rates and apprenticeship levy reform'

UKHospitality (UKH) welcomed the new Government and called for the Labour Party to deliver on its manifesto commitments to replace business rates and reform the apprenticeship levy in the first 100 days of Government.

Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "Firstly, I'd like to congratulate Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour party on its victory in the general election.

We look forward to working with the new Labour Government, which during the campaign has clearly recognised hospitality’s role serving Britain and creating places where people want to live, work and invest.

“We now need to see this followed up with action in the first 100 days. Delivering on manifesto commitments to replace business rates and reform the Apprenticeship Levy would be a clear sign that the Government backs hospitality as the central pillar of the everyday economy.

“Swiftly addressing business rates would fulfil a longstanding ask of the sector and avoid a cliff-edge in April, when current relief is set to end and rates are due to increase again.

“Hospitality, with its presence in every constituency, can act as a powerhouse for driving economic growth, creating new jobs and regenerating our towns and cities. I look forward to working in partnership with the new Government to help deliver its manifesto commitments and realise hospitality’s growth ambitions.”

11:37AM - UKH announces post-election webinar 

Trade body UKHospitality (UKH) has invited members to participate in a webinar after the results of the general election have been announced.

In a post to X this morning, UKH detailed the webinar would take place at 12:30pm on Tuesday 9 July exclusively for its members.

The post said: "We'll cover what the next Government has in store for the sector, who the key ministers are and our activity for the first 100 days."

10:39AM - NTIA urges people to vote 

The Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) has urged people to use their "superpower" by voting today in a post shared to social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

In addition, the association also called for the ingoing Government to stem the rate of closures in the sector by alleviating inflationary pressures, with the number of businesses filing for administration having soared by 16% compared with 2023. Read more here​.

10:08AM - Licensee shares hope for change 

A Cheltenham-based operator has shared hope for a change in Government and more support for hospitality firms after today’s votes have been counted.

Emma Gibbon of the Plough and the Hewlett Arms told the MA​ the sector had not been a priority for the any party during the pre-election campaigns.

She said: “Whoever takes power, I am concerned that hospitality doesn't seem to have been on the agenda for any of the main parties.

“We appear to have been overlooked as part of the election campaigns and no party has offered any real idea of how they might support the sector or any other small businesses in the near future.”

However, other operators previously told the MA ​it was “better the devil you know” and to focus on falling inflation rates when considering who to vote for. Read more here​.

9:45AM - Multiple-operator celebrates election day with 'party' launch

Blind Tiger Party Image

North-west multiple operator, Blind Tiger Inns, is marking election day with its very own party; the Blind Tiger Inns party.

The firm said after weeks of hearing from political leaders during the election campaign, the "real meaning" of the word party had been "missed" and invited customers to party with them as voters take to the polls today. 

It added there would be "no mandates or empty promises, just good old-fashioned partying", with Tiger Beer, the unofficial beer of the Blind Tiger Inns party, being offered for just £2 a bottle all day across its estate. 

Leader of the Blind Tiger Inns party and pubco director Chris Tulloch said: “After years of Tory leadership, we want to ensure our supporters there will be a party.

"This is our mandate to the good people who support us. No longer will we be at the mercy of beer duty, VAT and other costs inflicted by the tory party. Not today good people. Today we party the Blind Tiger way!"

9AM - Welcome to The MA's live coverage

Voters are set to take to the polls today to elect a new Government – that could mean another five-year term for the Tories or an end to their 14-year spell at the helm of the UK.

recent snap poll​​ by the MA​​ revealed 31% of the 152 respondents expected to vote for the Labour party​​, with the Conservatives ​​closely behind at 25%.

Reform UK were the third most popular party among operators according to the survey, with 23% of the votes, followed by the Liberal Democrats and Green Party ​​at 14% and 5% respectively.

Meanwhile just 2% of participants said they would vote for another option.

Read more about what each party will do for the sector here​​.

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