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IBN sets out £35bn strategy to save British hospitality | Article

The Independent Business Network (IBN) has urged the chancellor to implement a £35bn strategy that would work to safeguard British hospitality businesses and save 500,000 jobs. 

The business group, which champions the needs of family-run and family-owned businesses across the UK, has called for a range of support measures to be included as part of the strategy. 

Proposed measures include a £695m rebate for the safety equipment purchased by hospitality businesses, with IBN arguing that in many cases, these investments were made on the “basis of the tenor of the Government’s announcements at the start of the initial lockdown that, once the spread of the virus had been curtailed, the hospitality sector would reopen”. 

It is also calling on the government to halve the amount that hospitality venues pay in alcohol duty and to extend the suspension of business rates for a further 12 months.

In addition, it has asked for the existing reduced VAT rate of 5% for the hospitality sector to be maintained for the remainder of the year, while extending it to include sales on alcohol. 

The group also argues that in many cases the “fate of the hospitality sector is intimately linked to the future of Britain’s high streets”, adding that a strong retail presence across high streets increases footfall for the hospitality businesses.

In light of this, its report is calling for the Chancellor to “level the playing field” between the high street and online retail. 

It is calling for the rate of VAT payable by retailers with a physical retail presence to be cut to 14%, and for the government to undertake a consultation process with businesses, local authorities and business associations to replace the current business rates model by the time of the 2024 general election. 

The report also calls for the freezing of parking charges for 2020-2021, at a cost of £872m, and to allow only a 1% annual increase for the next five years for car parking, parking permits, and associated fees while putting in place measures for further consultation.

Lastly, the report calls for the reintroduction and expansion of the ‘eat-out-to-help-out’ scheme to include sales on alcohol and to complement it with a nationwide ‘pro-hospitality’ advertising campaign. 

Chairman of the IBN, John Longworth, said: “The comprehensive £35bn package of measures we have set out here today are vital to saving our pubs, restaurants and high streets from financial ruin. 

“We urge the Government to adopt them and save up to 500,000 jobs and countless family run businesses from destitution. After all, the parlous state our hospitality industry is facing is a symptom of the Government’s own actions.”

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