Problems for the UK economy don’t come much bigger than where we are right now, and the impact to date is just the starter course. The UK Government rarely acts as we have seen it do so today, without fear and acknowledging that they need to. All data shows that the COVID-19 outbreak and the shockwave effect it will have on the UK economy is at an early stage.
The new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has already undergone a baptism of fire being placed in the position he has of trying to steer a prudent economic course for UK PLC in the weeks and months ahead.
In and amongst his early statements this afternoon, where the headline announcement was the largest sustained fiscal boost for 30 years, Sunak pledged: “Our manifesto promised that for shops, cinemas, restaurants and music venues, with a rateable value of less than £51,000 we would increase their business rates retail discount to 50%. Today I can go further, and take the exceptional step, for this coming year, of abolishing their business rates altogether.”
Smaller businesses are almost always at the front line with economic downturns, so many pubs, especially independent’s are set to benefit from today’s budget. Business rate discount for pubs have been raised to £5,000 from £1,000, and all alcohol duty frozen. For the pubs who already pay little or no business rates, a £3,000 small business relief grant is available, which thousands of pubs could benefit from.
The freezing of alcohol duty will see benefits spread right across our industry and not just for pubs. The benefits to be seen by some pubs will also be realised by small restaurant and hotel operators.
These measures will be well received across hospitality especially when combined with other measures the new Chancellor has pledged to take such as increasing loan availability and tax allowances.
The hospitality and catering industry is at the forefront of the crisis with restaurants, hotels and every provider of hospitality and catering services and products watching as our industry begins to do its best in facing extremely challenging market conditions.
While the budget was taking place and immediately following the details of it being announced in Parliament, the FTSE 100 and the S&P 500 Index both fell, 1% and 3% respectively, as the impact of COVID 19 continues to disrupt financial markets around the world.