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Welsh hospitality calls for business rates relief

Published:  14 December, 2023

UKHospitality Wales has called on the Welsh government to boost beleaguered pubs, hotels and restaurants in Wales and provide vital business rates relief in next week’s Budget.

The leading trade body is asking finance minister Rebecca Evans and the Welsh cabinet to at least replicate the measures introduced for English businesses in the Autumn Statement to support hospitality, leisure and retail businesses.

The Welsh hospitality sector faces an additional £50m in costs, according to the trade body, without any action to extend relief and freeze the multiplier.

In last month’s Autumn Statement, UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt extended the 75% business rate relief and employers’ National Insurance relief for another year, plus a freeze on the small business multiplier (the raising of business rates in line with inflation).

David Chapman, executive director for UKHospitality Wales, said: “We have seen in recent years just how critical our village, coastal and urban pubs are to local communities – employing thousands, benefiting our wellbeing and contributing to our culture.

“A constructive package of business rates relief for the sector will be the difference between survival and closure for many – and between investment and stagnation for others. Freezing the multiplier and extending 75% relief of business rates will offer our businesses a lifeline in the current economic environment.”

In the first nine months of 2023 pubs in Wales closed at almost twice the rate of those in England – 0.75% of all pubs in England shut, while 1.4% of pubs closed in Wales over the same period.

Chapman continued: “Inaction would mean an average pub facing around £10,000 in additional business rate payments, which could shut their doors for good and stop pints being pulled.

“High energy costs, food and drink inflation and the squeeze on the cash in our customer’s pockets and purses are having their effect and any help our hard-pressed businesses can get right now would be invaluable.”

Meanwhile, figures from the Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA) revealed that 1.7% of pubs in Scotland closed during the first nine months of 2023. It means permanent closures in Scotland are more than one-third higher than the whole of last year.

Earlier this month the SBPA and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) issued a joint appeal to support their sector after it emerged that English businesses will receive a 75% reduction in rates bills for the financial year 2024-25.

“The failure to pass on the rates relief last year was a devastating blow for Scotland’s pubs and bars and has resulted in a record number of permanent closures,” the SBPA and SLTA said in a joint statement.