Budget 2017: trade disappointed by APD and rates

The British Hospitality Association fears yesterday’s spring budget has not gone far enough to help hospitality businesses facing steep hikes in rates.

Ufi Ibrahim, BHA chief executive, said: “The £300 million spread around England’s local authorities to soften the blow of massive increases in business rates is a tiny drop in the ocean.

“In addition, the hike in alcohol duty will cancel out any headline-grabbing relief on business rates for hospitality businesses with the chancellor effectively robbing ‘Peter to pay Paul’.

“We remain extremely worried that some small hospitality businesses, facing an average 23% rates increase, will be forced out of business.”

Meanwhile, a lack of action in the budget on Air Passenger Duty was labelled as “very disappointing” by Abta.

Alan Wardle, Abta public affairs director, said: “The chancellor’s decision to go ahead with additional increases in APD is very disappointing.

“The post Brexit world in which we now live, is a very different one from where we were 12 months ago.

“Levying sky-high taxes on aviation sends out the worst possible message as we look to build our business relationships and connections outside of Europe.

“APD also represents an unjustifiably high economic burden on hard pressed family budgets and Abta urges the government to follow the lead of the Scottish government and make a firm commitment to halving this retrogressive tax.”

UKinbound said tourism businesses will be affected by the changes to National Insurance but welcomed increased spending on the national road network.

Darren Seward, hospitality sector specialist at commercial insurer NFU Mutual, also praised the investment in infrastructure, saying: “Investment in roads in the north and Midlands will be a positive step to help hospitality businesses become more accessible to customers, and in improving productivity in the tourism sector.”

And he welcomed news about investment in the new T-Level qualifications, adding: “Amid concerns of a post-Brexit migrant labour cliff-edge situation, it was encouraging to see a means for attracting more British people to the workforce in the long-term.

“T-Level technical qualifications that hold equal weight to academic counterparts could be an effective way to attract home-grown talent to the industry.

“It is essential that the catering and hospitality curriculum is developed in such a way that will work for all types of hospitality business, with a strong employee force that can help to boost the productivity of the UK tourism sector.”