Spring Statement 2018

The Chancellor released his Spring Statement this week, and as you can probably guess from the lack of furore following it, there wasn’t a great deal of anything useful added to what we already know from the Autumn Budget.

Therefore, in the spirit of Her Majesty’s Treasury, we too shall keep it short and sweet – you’re welcome.

So, the main points of the Spring Statement affecting UK pubs are:

  • Ideas for “fairer” taxation of multinational digital businesses – A welcome idea, however it is the disparity in business rates between the high street operators and online businesses which must be urgently addressed. Pubs are currently paying five times more in rates than their share of rateable business turnover. Obscene in its own right, but even more so when compared with that of online companies. Speaking of business rates…
  • Next revaluation of business rates to be brought forward by one year to 2021 – All well and good in the long term, not so much for anyone currently struggling following the disastrous 7 year revaluation of 2017.
  • A call for evidence on the impact of VAT on the hospitality and tourism sector in Northern IrelandTourism contributes greatly to the Northern Ireland economy, however high rates of VAT pose a significant barrier to growth, so these discussions are good news for them. It has also given hope to industry leaders that any steps taken as a result will open the door to talks on UK-wide VAT reform for tourism and hospitality businesses. Fun fact – under current rates of VAT, a third of the cost of a pint in the pub goes to the taxman.
  • Consultation on tax changes to discourage use of single-use plastic – The pub industry has already been particularly pro-active in their approach to tackling our plastic problem, but as Kate Nicholls of UKHospitality stated, “Change must come via positive voluntary action, rather than punitive legislation that penalises and burdens businesses without solving the problem.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, so we won’t.

All in all, lots of ‘ideas’ and ‘expectations’ flying around, but nothing particularly decisive to write home about, so it’s very much just wait and see at this point. Actions, after all, speak louder than words – watch this space.

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