Pub and bar operators react to Autumn Statement

Operators from across the pub and bar industry have been reacting to the various measures.

Operators from across the pub and bar industry have been reacting to the various measures introduced by the chancellor in his Autumn Statement on 22 November 2023. 

Headline topics for the hospitality industry were the extension of the business rates relief until 2025, freezing the Small Business Multiplier, freezing alcohol duty until August 2024 and increasing the National Living Wage to £11.44 from April 2024. 

Also, while Jeremy Hunt announced a reduction of Employee National Insurance, there was no reduction to Employers’ National Insurance contributions.

Here are how some of the on-trade's largest operators have reacted...

Stonegate Group's CEO David McDowall was fairly positive about the statement
"We welcome the chancellor’s decision to place a freeze on the rate of alcohol duty and his commitment to continuing business rate relief. The business rate extension is particularly critical for our publican partners, as for many it may be the difference between remaining open or having to close. 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." 

Nick Mackenzie, CEO of Greene King (pictured), believes the measure don't go far enough
"The chancellor’s decision to freeze alcohol duty is a welcome lifeline for many pubs and breweries. The extension to the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality business rates relief scheme, and freezing the small business rates multiplier, are also both welcome and will help provide vital respite to our tenanted pubs who are struggling with high costs in other areas. However, these will offer little support to businesses like Greene King that manage and invest in pubs in communities.

"Pubs play a huge role in contributing to the nation’s growth and employ hundreds of thousands of people across the UK. We've invested heavily in our pubs and the long-term future of our sector, but at the same time we’ve seen the cost of doing business continue to rise. We continue to invest in our brilliant teams across the UK but must recognise that the 10% rise in the National Living Wage will add extra pressure on pub operators across the country. We urge the chancellor to continue to explore ways to reduce the costs facing all pubs, so the sector can help unlock the growth he is seeking."

Clive Chesser, Punch Pubs & Co. CEO, says Hunt has listened to the sector
"We are pleased that the chancellor has clearly listened, with the Government again recognising the vital contribution that pubs make to the UK’s economic and social fibre. The welcome announcements on alcohol duty and business rates will provide a positive stimulus as we continue to bring communities together, drive investment in jobs, and strengthen our status as a creator of real growth throughout the nation.

"A strong and sustainable economic recovery rests on the foundations of a robust and reinvigorated hospitality industry. It is imperative that we all continue to work together to protect our local pubs and the wider hospitality sector after an unrelenting period of pressure."

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