Autumn Statement 2013: What it means for hospitality

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Business rates, Want

In his 2013 Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne said the Government's plans will 'remove the cap on aspiration'
In his 2013 Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne said the Government's plans will 'remove the cap on aspiration'
"Britain's economic plan is working," proclaimed George Osborne in his Autumn Statement earlier today as the Chancellor pledged to support 'the hard-working values' of the nation's high street restaurants, cafés and pubs. 

The good news for hospitality businesses was, as predicted, the announcement that business rates​ will be capped at 2 per cent in England and Wales next year, instead of being linked to inflation. 

Moreover, businesses will be allowed to pay their rates in 12-month instalments and those with a rate of up to £50,000 will be given a discount of £1,000 for the next two years. 

"Business rates impose a heavy burden on businesses of all sizes," Osborne told MPs at the House of Commons. "Today we will ease that burden. I want to help those who have struggled hard on our high streets - the pubs, cafés and restaurants - often working long hours for not enough in return.

"The people in these businesses epitomise the hard-working values this Government supports. With Small Business Saturday this weekend, I want the government to do all they can to help them."

Business rates, collected by local councils every year and based on a property’s rateable value, were set to rise by 3.2 per cent in 2014,​ having increased by nearly 23 per cent in five years. But there has been intense lobbying by business organisations, including those from the pub industry,​ that pushed the chancellor towards a rethink.

Supporting young people

Other big measures announced in today's mini-Budget included a boost in the start-up loans scheme, aiming to help 50,000 more people start their own businesses, and an employers' national insurance cut for young people (aged under 21).

The jobs tax cut will affect 1.5 million people as part of a revamped bid to tackle the youth unemployment crisis. Osborne said that the Government's work in this year has already been paying off, with forecasts for unemployment down from 7.6 per cent this year to 7 per cent in 2015.

In a move to support apprenticeships, the chancellor also announced that HM Revenue & Customs will now fund employers directly for taking on apprentices, with the Government wanting an extra 20,000 higher apprenticeships over the next two years. Eighteen to 21-year-olds looking for jobs will be offered apprenticeships and those who don't turn up will lose their benefits.

Growth upgraded

Osborne confirmed that there is a 'major upward revision' in growth this year and next year, with the independent Office for Budget Responsibility now predicting GDP growth of 1.4 per cent this year and 2.4 per cent in 2014 – a significant improvement from the March budget,​ when Britain appeared to be at risk of sliding back into recession.

The chancellor will be forced to borrow £111bn in the current fiscal year, instead of the £120bn it forecast at the budget; £96bn instead of £108bn in 2014-15; and £79bn in 2015-16, down from £96bn in the original budget projections.

"We need a government that can live within its means, in a country that pays its way in the world", said Osborne. "The job is not yet done - yes, the deficit is down, but it is still far too high."

So, for the hospitality industry, there is some good news to be taken from today: Osborne announced some measures which will undoubtedly help many business owners. But, as the Chancellor himself admitted, 'the job is not yet done' and by refusing to budge on things like cutting high rates of VAT,​ the barriers to growth still remain.

Autumn Statement 2013: In full

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