Budget leaves Bristol Hoteliers out in the cold again

Hoteliers in Bristol say the spring budget has once again left their businesses out in the cold and facing extremely challenging times ahead.
Next month, as a result of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement, the National Living Wage will increase, placing even more pressure on struggling hospitality businesses.
Trade body UKHospitality had warned that ‘irreversible damage’ could be caused to the nation’s ‘world-leading’ hospitality sector if the Spring budget did not offer some comfort.
Raphael Herzog, Chair of the Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA), said: “Before the budget, more than 40 MPs signed a letter to Jeremy Hunt calling on him to support the hospitality and tourism industries in the budget.
“UKHospitality and more than 100 businesses wrote an open letter to the Chancellor outlining the support needed to help secure their survival.
“These included a temporary cut to the lower rate of employer national insurance contributions and reducing the rate of VAT for the sector, as the Government did during the pandemic.
“But it appears as if all those pleas have fallen on deaf ears and we’ve been left out in the cold again.
“We will, of course, continue to do everything we can to continue to keep going but it’s going to be a lot harder without the government recognising the massive contribution hospitality makes to the national economy, as well as how beneficial it is to people’s mental health.”
In announcing an extension of the freeze on alcohol duty until February 2025, the Chancellor said, “We value our hospitality industry and are backing the great British pub.”
Mr Herzog added: “We are not feeling particularly valued, especially when our costs are set to increase further in order to pay the imminent higher National Living Wage.
“The day after the budget, we have our annual Night of the Stars event, where we recognise the heroes of the hospitality sector in Bristol, those who are going above and beyond to make a positive difference.
“The icing on the cake would have been to also be able to celebrate a vote of confidence in our sector from the Government, with some renewed support, but sadly, that has not happened.
“It will not spoil our party; it will not diminish our determination to keep fighting to save the sector we love; we will grit our teeth and continue to do everything we can to meet the challenges facing us.
“But it will be hard to hide our disappointment that, once again, our pleas for support appear to have fallen on deaf ears.
“We won’t give up. We need to carry on putting pressure on the government by lobbying, which raises the old issue which came up during the pandemic about there being no government minister specifically dedicated to the hospitality sector.
“I know UKHospitality is pushing for this because we need someone who can make decisions for our industry and fully understand the difficulties we face. As it is, we have been ignored once more, which is sad.
“I have written to our local MPs and to Jeremy Hunt about the need for more support for hospitality.
“With the Living Wage increase, and no new support for the sector, it is going to be very difficult moving forward and I just can’t see if the government is going to be able to control inflation.
“Prices are still going up and the only way hospitality businesses can survive is to put their own prices up, which we don’t really want to do, but we have no choice.”
To find out more about the BHA, visit info@bristol-hoteliers.co.uk