UK

Pubs ‘raise glass’ to Chancellor’s small firms boost

Britain’s publicans and brewers will be ‘raising a glass to the Chancellor’ after measures unveiled in the autumn statement to help small firms by slashing business rates bills across the sector (Lynne Cameron/PA)
Britain’s publicans and brewers will be ‘raising a glass to the Chancellor’ after measures unveiled in the autumn statement to help small firms by slashing business rates bills across the sector (Lynne Cameron/PA) Britain’s publicans and brewers will be ‘raising a glass to the Chancellor’ after measures unveiled in the autumn statement to help small firms by slashing business rates bills across the sector (Lynne Cameron/PA)

Britain’s publicans and brewers will be “raising a glass to the Chancellor” after measures were unveiled in the autumn statement to help small firms by slashing business rate bills across the sector.

But trade groups criticised Jeremy Hunt for failing to do more to help large retail and hospitality businesses.

Experts estimated that independent pubs, small shops and restaurants will save between £11,728 and £16,507 each on average in business rates next April thanks to the announcements.

The Chancellor revealed plans to freeze the so-called small business multiplier – a tax rate used to calculate bills for non-domestic properties – while also extending the 75% discount on business rates up to £110,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure firms for a fifth year to 2024-25.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) welcomed the moves as “bold, measured and targeted support”, while the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said they were “vital lifelines for the sector”.

It comes as Jeremy Hunt also announced plans to freeze beer duty until August 2024.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “Britain’s publicans and brewers will be raising a glass to the Chancellor tonight, who has once again recognised the importance of our nation’s pubs and brewers to the economy and communities.”

She added: “These policy decisions will save our sector around £350 million.

“They will help deliver growth across cities, towns and villages all over the UK, helping to level up the nation and underpin truly national growth in local economies at the heart of our communities.”

But she stresses that such measures were “critical”, to help offset soaring costs and a £240 million increase in the sector’s wage bill after the government also upped the National Living Wage for workers.

The freezing of the small business rates multiplier for another year, together with the extension of the 75% discount for occupied retail, leisure and hospitality premises for 2024-25 will save the average shop £11,728, restaurant £16,507, pub £12,869 and cafe £6,072 in business rates next April, according to the commercial real estate intelligence firm Altus Group.

But trade groups said the Chancellor’s decision to increase the so-called standard multiplier – which is paid by properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or more – by 6.7% will hit some of the country’s biggest employers.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said it “will see businesses representing almost two-thirds of the sector’s trade still facing a £150 million rates hike”.

“This will only put more pressure on consumer prices and inflation, at a time when businesses are still grappling with high costs of energy, food, drink and wages.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said “retailers and their customers have been sold out by the Chancellor’s statement”.

She said the statement “does not do enough to support shops, shoppers and an industry that employs over three million people, and many more across its supply chains”.

“The extension to the retail, hospitality and leisure relief and the freezing of the small business multiplier is a gesture of support to high streets and while it may help some smaller businesses, it does nothing for those retailers that provide the lion’s share of employment, investment, and low-cost essentials for customers,” according to Ms Dickinson.