Queen's Speech brings little immediate relief to struggling businesses, says UKHospitality

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Yesterday, In a programme of 38 bills, the prime minister set out plans to use Brexit freedoms to stimulate the economy, but will it be enough to help an already struggling hospitality sector?

Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive, has said that while there is plenty in the Queen's Speech that will "unshackle" the sector and stimulate growth, the measures do little to bring immediate relief to struggling businesses trying to stay afloat.

The positives: pavement licenses, mandating that commercial landlords rent out empty shops, an energy security bill

UKHospitality did welcome legislation that will see pavement licences made permanent, as Kate said: “Pavement licences also revealed the hospitality industry’s ingenuity and creativity, and significant levels of investment that will now continue to return value.”

This announcement was also supported by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), whose chief executive, Emma McClarkin said: “This is fantastic news for our sector and will be a welcome boost for pubs across the country ahead of the summer months.”

Additionally, high street landlords who allow shops to lie empty for more than a year will be forced to rent them out as part of government plans to revive town centres, a plan that hospitality will be able to both benefit from and add to, because, as Kate said, the hospitality industry “can make a massive contribution to recovery and levelling up" of the economy.

There was also some mention of an energy security bill which will allow the energy price cap to be extended beyond next year as well as handing ministers the power to direct essential power companies to secure energy supplies.

While this may not benefit hospitality directly, any bill that might lower the rising energy prices will be looked on favourably.

The negatives: not enough of an overhaul of the planning system, or of business rates, unclear plans for tackling obesity

Despite the positive announcements, UKHospitality decried a lack of straightforward measures which would have brought great benefits for the industry: with regards to proposals for planning systems, for example, which the trade body doesn't deem expedient enough. Kate commented: "We want to work proactively with local authorities to make sure the planning system is right for businesses and for residents.”

Iti is encouraging that the government has plans to simplify and update the business rates system, however, she added, but "this needs to be combined with concrete action to reduce the overall burden of rates on hospitality”.

“Cutting the rates hospitality businesses pay will play a crucial role in regenerating high streets and levelling up the nation. The government’s consultation on an online sales tax offers an opportunity to do this in a cost-neutral manner.”

Along with this, there was a mention in the speech of the government implementing legislation to tackle obesity, however, it was elaborated on further. Given previous government initiatives surrounding obesity - namely its calorie counting scheme - people remain apprehensive as to what that could mean.

Overall there is a lot in the Queen's speech that seems promising, Kate said: "There’s plenty that will unshackle our businesses, to better enable them to create growth."

However, it is by no means entirely positive, with little immediate relief being given to the pains that hospitality businesses are feeling in the short term.

"We urge the government to ensure regulatory reliefs come as soon as possible, to help struggling businesses stay afloat," Kate added.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 11th May 2022

Queen's Speech brings little immediate relief to struggling businesses, says UKHospitality