Extending the reduced VAT period and doing more to overcome a shortage of skilled workers top the wish-list of Bristol hoteliers ahead of this month’s budget.
As the UK continues to face the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Chancellor Rishi Sunak will deliver his third budget on 27 October.
In July 2020 the government announced a temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT for certain supplies relating to hospitality, hotel and holiday accommodation.
That rate was increased to 12.5% at the start of this month and will remain until 31 March 2022, but the Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) want the VAT reduction to continue beyond that date.
BHA Chairman Raphael Herzog said: “We really need this to be extended to help our businesses recover from the effects of all the lockdowns.
“We fully support the new #VATsEnough campaign which is calling for the 12.5% VAT rate to be made permanent for the hospitality sector.
“Although we had an exceptionally good summer, with all the uncertainty over foreign travel prompting a surge in staycations, we are still finding that companies are reluctant to organise large events and conferences at the moment, which is a significant source of income for us.”
Many hotels are also continuing to suffer from a shortage of skilled workers.
Mr Herzog said: “We hear every day that, all around the UK, some hotels, restaurants and bars arenot opening fully because they simply don’t have the staff they need. Some are operating at only 75% capacity, or even less, so more needs to be done to support our industry.
“A combination of the pandemic, which prompted many of our European workers to go back home, coupled with Brexit, which restricts their ability to return, has had a huge impact on staffing levels.
“The Government has introduced temporary visas to help with the shortage of lorry drivers. We would really like to see the Chancellor announce something similar for the skilled workers we are now struggling to find, including chefs.
“Hotels are also struggling to find the waiters and housekeeping staff that they need in order to provide the standards of service that our customers expect.
“Even where wages have increased by 20 percent or more, hotels are just not getting the applications they need for these roles.
“In addition, we’re still unsure about who is fighting our sector’s cause, as there is still no one as a Minister looking after the fourth largest income provider for the government, and one of the largest employers in the UK.
“We would really like to see the Chancellor acknowledge just how hard the hospitality sector has been hit by the pandemic, and, given the significant contribution our businesses make to the national economy, we hope he will continue to provide us with the support we need to recover.”