The SLTA (Scottish Licensed Trade Association) today expressed grave concern for the future of many hospitality businesses, stating the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement does little to instil confidence that brighter days are on the horizon.
“The Chancellor’s eye-watering Budget leaves the Scottish licensed trade shedding more than just a few tears,” said Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director. “There is nothing in it that gives us a fighting chance to get through the next few months – the future is grim.
“This week already it has been confirmed that UK inflation hit a 41-year high in October, accelerating to 11.1 per cent on the back of rising energy and food prices. This has major implications for our industry as we already know that some drinks manufacturers are increasing their prices which means our pubs, bars and restaurants will have to do that too, directly impacting their customers.
“The reversal of the freeze on alcohol duty will also hit businesses and customers alike with the cost of a pint increasing by more than just inflation.
“We already know from a recent survey that we conducted that some pubs and restaurants are considering closing over the winter period because they are unable to absorb recent sharp increases in energy bills at a time when they are recovering from the pandemic and still paying off debts incurred during Covid.”
Mr Wilkinson added: “We’re really concerned about the future of the industry. We need a lifeline – more needs to be done to help the struggling hospitality sector through the winter months.
“Businesses are already closing or reducing their opening hours – the chronic shortage of staff as a result of Brexit is contributing to that – but we predict further closures. We have previously called for business rates relief and a reduction in VAT for hospitality businesses – both would help in a small way.
“We welcome the Chancellor’s pledge to ‘soften the blow on businesses with a nearly £14 billion tax cut over the next five years’ which will mean nearly two-thirds of properties will not have to pay more on business rates – pubs and restaurants will benefit from that and we hope that the Scottish Government can give us more information on that soon.
“Every day is a challenge for our pubs and bars who have worked very hard post-Covid and Brexit to showcase Scotland’s hospitality industry, but we need more help to protect the jobs that outlets provide directly and the associated jobs in the wholesaling, brewing/distilling and food-producing sectors.”