Budget boost for hospitality and retail sectors

The 2017 Autumn Budget was delivered at a time when the UK economy is hampered by low productivity and a downgraded growth trajectory. With this and the the continued uncertainty around the Brexit negotiations, business owners looked to the Chancellor for measures to stimulate the economy. 

Mark Easy, Business Insurance Specialist at NFU Mutual, said he was encouraged to see some measures announced which would offer a boost to those businesses which are the beating hearts of many village and town high streets.

Frozen duties

"Frozen duties on wines, spirits and beer, fuel, and short haul air passenger rates will be welcomed by the industry and consumers alike," said Mark. 

"Exemption for white van men and women from increases on the new diesel vehicle supplement will provide breathing room for those particularly in hospitality, food and drink and retail to keep deliveries efficient."

Business rates

"It is promising that concerns about the unfairness of business rates are being listened to, although further reform to the business rates system is needed to provide business owners with the security they need," said Mark. 

"Bringing forward the switch to the CPI inflation index to April 2018, and the ability for businesses to have rates revalued, will go some way to improving the fairness of the system in a measure that the Chancellor says will save businesses £2.3bn."

Pubs with a rateable value of under £100,000 would welcome the continuation of the £1,000 discount rate for a further year. But Mark added: "They, alongside all other businesses under the current rating system, will be seeking further assurances to give them confidence for the medium to long term future." 

VAT threshold

Mark said: "Those running small businesses will heave a sigh of relief that despite speculation, they won't be faced with expensive accounting admin as the Chancellor has decided to keep the threshold for VAT registration at £85,000, in recognition of small businesses as the backbone of the country’s economy."

National Living Wage

The Chancellor announced there would be an increase in the National Living Wage to £7.83, which Mark said is positive for workers. But he said a question remains regarding where the stream of workers will come from if affected by Brexit.

"Announcements regarding £20m investment in T-Levels to educate are promising," added Mark. "But how in actual terms young people will be inspired to build their careers in the hospitality industry remains to be seen."