The Autumn Statement, issued on 22 November by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, received a mixed response from the leisure and hospitality sector.
As both statements show, the Chancellor could have done much more to support both drinks producers, hit by recent increases in duty paid on alcohol, and the licensed trade, which is losing two pubs a week.
Ed Baker, managing director at Kingsland Drinks, in response to the Chancellor’s announcements said: “At Kingsland Drinks, we are relieved that the Chancellor has decided to not hamstring the UK wine and spirits sector even more by a further Excise increase.
“The recent August 1 increases are making the UK consumer pay some of the highest alcohol taxes in Europe, which are now filtering through to higher pricing for them and lower sales for us; an additional rise would have damaged our industry even further.”
James Burgess, head of commercial and insolvency expert at Atradius (one of the UK’s leading trade credit insurers), was also less than impressed with the Chancellor’s statement: “Jeremy Hunt has bottled it on relief for pubs. Hunt’s promises of relief for pubs and hospitality firms deliver half measures for thousands of struggling businesses in the sector
“Our own data shows an 11% increase in late and failed payment claims in that past year, highlighting how frequently hospitality firms are struggling with balancing their books. Freezing alcohol duties until 1 August, and the extension of the 75% business rates will give a £350 million boost.
“However, with one in ten pubs at risk of closing, we’re concerned it doesn’t go far enough. While this will offer short-term respite for businesses, Hunt has admitted this can’t continue forever, meaning the future remains uncertain.
“Britain’s pubs employ over 220,000 people, but with two closing every single day in the UK – twice the rate of 2022 – bigger action and longer-term growth strategies are needed to revive the sector and prevent the loss of establishments that often live at the heart of communities.
“While this is a positive step, the government must have the bottle to go further and protect the future of UK hospitality.”
At Hand Crafted Drinks Magazine it is all too clear to see what is happening to those who run and manage pubs. Takings are down, running costs are up and there is little support for this important sector of the economy.
On our travels around the country we see the boarded-up pubs that are only ever likely to re-open as a convenience stores where, ironically, cheaper alcohol will be sold that only serves to encourage more and more consumers to drink at home.
For the drinks manufacturers, demand for their products is also on the decline as the number of trade customers diminishes and profits are squeezed further as the multiple food retailers reduce the prices they are prepared to pay to stock the products.
The good news is that inflation is falling, which is positive for the economy, but it has come at the cost of a stagnating economy. We remain hopeful that 2024 will bring better news for producers and licensees, alike.
For more information about Kingsland Drinks visit their website
For more information about Atradius UK visit their website