Hospitality Today Feb - Mar 2017 | Page 12

| Hospitality Today | Feb / March 2017

Hospitality businesses hardest hit with hike in business rates

Britain ’ s high streets face losing some of their most popular pubs and restaurants because of big rises in business rates , Philip Hammond has been warned .
Hospitality businesses including Pizza Express , Greene King , Wagamama , All Bar One and Slug & Lettuce have written to the chancellor to ask him to rethink a plan under which some outlets will be hit with a 42 % increase in their rates this year .
There have been complaints from across the business world over the rates , which have also caused concern among Tory MPs worried about closures on high streets in their constituencies . Independent outlets feel particularly vulnerable and businesses are asking that Mr Hammond use his budget next month to reduce the huge increases .
Pub and restaurant chains directly employing more than a million people have signed a letter to the chancellor , warning that the rises some are facing will damage their ability to help to make a success of Brexit .
They state that many companies in the hospitality sector were “ not prepared for the significant rises resulting from the latest revaluation ”.
“ This will add a further £ 300 million to £ 500 million in additional cost in the hospitality
sector ,” they write . “ Margins in our sector are already under intense pressure , due to the cumulative impact of increased wage , training and regulatory costs and there is a very real danger that these increases will result in a freeze in investment and a scaling back of new openings and job creation .
“ We have already seen evidence of outlets closing as a result of the planned increase . Modern pubs , bars and restaurants are valuable social , economic and community assets - they contribute to our thriving tourism sector , high street regeneration and attract and support significant inward investment .
“ As such , they are well placed to capitalise on the opportunities presented by Brexit , but they will not be able to do so if hampered by unsustainable additional costs .”
The new business rates will apply from April . Ministers have also lifted the cap on the amount by which bills can increase in the first year from 12.5 % to 42 %. Some pub landlords have claimed that they are facing eventual increases of as much as 516 %.