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Autumn Statement: on-trade welcomes rates extension and duty freeze

The continued freeze on business rates in the Autumn Statement has been welcomed by the pub and on-trade sector, although the industry has urged the Chancellor to reform the system as “temporary measures…can’t go on forever”. 

Speaking about the decision to extend the 75% discount on business rates for another year, the Campaign for Real Ale Chairman Nik Antona said the move was “very much welcome” and “much needed”.

But warned that it couldn’t continue for an indefinite period.

He said: “The Chancellor admitted that temporary measures like this couldn’t go on forever, so it is vital that the Government urgently reforms the grossly unfair business rates system which penalises pubs and puts their future at risk.

“CAMRA is calling on the Scottish and Welsh Governments to commit, now, to offering similar help for pubs with the burden of business rates. We’d also like to see the UK Government find a way to help with business rates for the beer and pub sector in Northern Ireland if there continues to be no Executive ministers in post to do so.”

CAMRA also welcomed the freeze in alcohol duty until August next year, but said it was a “missed opportunity” to give more “targeted help” to protect pubs and the on-trade through cutting tax on draught beer and cider in such establishments.

Antona continued: “Reducing the tax burden specifically on pints in pubs must be extended in the future to keep pub-going affordable and to help keep pubs open and at the heart of both community life and local economies by giving them a fighting chance of competing against cheap supermarket alcohol.”


The CEO of Stonegate Group, David McDowall, which runs 1,289 pubs, bars and nightclubs, welcomed the decision to freeze duty and business rate relief, describing the latter as “particularly critical” to help the company’s publicans and “may be the difference between remaining open or having to close”.

McDowall said: “As we enter the busy festive trading period, this announcement will provide some respite and comfort to the hospitality sector which has battled against a triple threat of soaring energy costs, rampant inflation and cost of living pressures over the past year. We hope to see the Government continuing to support the hospitality sector and doubling down on its commitment as we head into 2024.”

UKHospitality, the trade body representing the sector, also welcomed the measures after lobbying for action.

Chief executive of the body, Kate Nicholls, said the freezing of the small business multiplier would “help those most vulnerable keep the lights on”, but she warned that the standard multiplier had risen by 6.4%, and therefor two-thirds of the sector would see a £150 rates hike.

One less worry

She welcomed the freeze on duty, stating it was “now one less cost venues have to worry about’.

Nicholls said: “With duty frozen, this should substantially constrain any cost increases passed on by drinks producers. Reforms to the planning system to drive quicker planning approvals will remove a significant barrier to business investment. This type of reform to reward the best performing local planning authorities is exactly the type of change we have been suggesting to drive growth in hospitality.

“While it’s disappointing that employer contributions to National Insurance have not also been cut, the reduction in National Insurance for employees will put more money in people’s pockets and provide a boost to hospitality in the New Year, often a challenging time for the sector.”

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