The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, will deliver his Autumn Statement to Parliament on Wednesday 22 November. With the state of the economy still feeling somewhat uncertain, much of his statement is likely to surround a progress update on how the Government is delivering on its key targets, namely halving inflation, growing the economy, and reducing national debt.
The Hospitality and Leisure sector has been calling out for measures that provide stability and that encourage and enable long-term planning and investment. In the current economic climate, businesses and employees alike need certainty and reassurance above all from this Autumn Statement. Laura Madeley, Director and Hospitality & Leisure Sector Specialist at Menzies, has outlined her top wishlist items that would benefit the sector if announced later this month.
• Business rates relief: The first critical demand from the sector revolves around the urgent need for a freeze in the business rates multiplier and an extension of the existing business rates relief scheme. With the scheme’s scheduled conclusion on March 31, 2024, industry players strongly advocate for its continuation for an additional year, citing the relentless surge in operational costs and mounting energy bills that continue to strain their financial stability.
• Hospitality VAT rate: The second crucial plea is for a comprehensive review and reform of the VAT rate governing hospitality services. Industry stakeholders propose the implementation of a reduced VAT rate, aimed at stimulating consumer spending and providing a much-needed boost to the overall economic performance of the sector.
• Attracting skilled overseas workers: Moreover, addressing the persistent labour shortage is a pressing priority. The sector calls for a relaxation of immigration rules concerning skilled workers from overseas, alongside a substantial increase in funding and incentives for apprenticeships and training programmes. Such measures will enhance the attractiveness of careers in the hospitality and leisure industry, fostering a sustainable talent pipeline for the sector’s continued growth and resilience.
With high expectations for the forthcoming 2023 Autumn Budget, industry stakeholders look to the Government for recognition of the sector’s significance and for the necessary support to facilitate its recovery from the pandemic’s impacts. By addressing the key recommendations put forth by the sector, the Government can lay a robust foundation for the sector’s sustained revival and future prosperity.