Government accused of failing to support business in cost of living crisis

The Staff Canteen

No Mention of business relief was given in Chancellor Rishi Sunak's announcement of measures to support low income households yesterday, a consortium of hospitality representatives have deplored

The Chancellor of the Exchequer unveiled a number of relief payments to tackle the cost of living crisis affecting people across the UK: a £400 energy grant for all households, a £650 payment for the country's eight million lowest-income households, £300 for eight million pensioners, and a one-off payment of £150 for six million people living with disabilities.

These are being funded by a new £5 billion windfall levy on oil and gas companies. A move that was, according to The Times, criticised by some cabinet ministers as they claimed it would damage long term investment in the UK.

Representatives of the hospitality industry are now calling for support targeted at small and medium businesses, who are already struggling to come to terms with the return to 20 percent VAT, increased energy costs and higher food prices.

The industry also needs support

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industry Association, was, to some extent, supportive of the government's announcement, decrying a "somewhat light touch, given the gravity of the current pressures."

However, he added: "We feel hugely disappointed and frustrated [that] the Chancellor and government have not taken the opportunity to fully support businesses within this announcement at such a critical time. Time is running out for businesses as costs ramp up, and we continue to call for a reduction in VAT back down to 12.5 percent and an energy cap for small and medium-sized enterprises.”

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said the government needs "to act now and take measures to immediately bring down costs and alleviate the pressures on our pubs and brewers," as "the fortunes of our sector hang in the balance."

"This is why we have been calling for an energy price cap for small businesses, to ensure fair energy deals for businesses across hospitality and beyond. A further package of small business support is needed to reduce the huge burden and allow pubs and brewers to get back on their feet instead of placing more barriers in the way of their recovery.”

Meanwhile, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls was supportive of the direct action given to support lower-income households - but also called for more help to be given to struggling businesses. 

She said: "We need a commensurate focus to reduce the costs of doing businesses, to reduce further price rises. The government needs to identify and accelerate policies that will cut costs, minimise red tape and accelerate growth."

"A reiteration of its commitment to cut business taxes to incentivise investment in high streets, people and innovation would also help to settle nerves across many sectors, including hospitality.”

This sentiment was supported by others, such as Lionel Benjamin, co-founder of AGO Hotels, and East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles.

As reported by Business Live, Scott said: "Companies will be hugely disappointed there was nothing in the Chancellor’s statement to help them in the short and medium terms, given we are in the grip of a very real cost of doing business crisis that shows no sign of slowing down with inflation continuing to rise." 

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th May 2022

Government accused of failing to support business in cost of living crisis