Hospitality bosses urge Chancellor to reform rates, planning and licensing in 2023 budget
The bosses of 155 UK hospitality businesses have signed a letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, calling on him to bring in reforms to planning, licensing and business rates, among other changes they said would “unshackle” the sector.
The letter - signed by companies including Wetherspoons, IHG, the Restaurant Group and Mitchells & Butlers -said that inflation, and particularly high energy costs, has prevented the sector from truly recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“While trade remains relatively stable, our businesses simultaneously face rising costs that erode margins and force prices up, and debt repayments that stifle investment,” the letter said. “Yet hospitality can instead be part of the solution to inflation.”
The businesses pointed to a number of actions that Hunt could take in this year’s budget - which will be announed on 15 March - that would “unleash the economic might” of the sector.
These include reforms to the apprenticeship levy, which a number of business leaders have criticised due to the criteria required to avail of the funds.
The letter also called for licensing and planning reform, as well as “structural reform of commercial rents”.
Finally, it called on the Chancellor to “remove unnecessary red-tape” and reform business rates, in order to boost growth.
UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said that without these changes, some hospitality companies could go out of business.
“From some of the largest hospitality businesses in the UK, to local community pubs and hotels, the sector is united in its message to the Chancellor: intervene in the Budget or lose businesses for good,” she said. “No one wants to see that happen. It would mean the loss of jobs and livelihoods, ripping the heartbeat out of communities and robbing the economy of a powerful force for growth, employment and recovery.
“If the Chancellor puts his faith in hospitality, the sector will repay it many times over. We have seen it time and time again – hospitality drives economic growth and creates jobs.
“I hope the collective voice of hospitality is enough to convince the Chancellor that his actions on 15 March will, quite literally, be make or break for many venues across the country.”