Hospitality criticises ‘disappointing’ Queen’s Speech

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Queen's Speech 2017 business rates reform EU workers
Hospitality trade bodies have given a lukewarm reception to the ‘disappointing’ announcements made in the Queen’s Speech yesterday (21 June).

Eight of the 27 bills related to Brexit and converting EU law in to UK law, but there were no promises to reform business rates or guarantee the rights of EU workers.

The Government said the announced Immigration Bill would end free movement of EU nationals in to the UK, while still enabling the country to attract ‘the brightest and the best’.

It will offer little reassurance to the hospitality industry, where an estimated 75% of UK waiters and waitresses,​ 25% of chefs and 37% of housekeeping staff are from the EU.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the ALMR, said operators and employees needed ‘clarity’ on the issue.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association (BHA), added that the Government was ‘already aware’ of the industry’s ‘vital need’ for access to the EU labour market.

“[It] is essential that the immigration system encourages, rather than deters tourism to the UK and allows visa-free access for Europeans,” said Ibrahim.

No help for Business rates

The ALMR also criticised the ‘disappointing’ failure of the speech to offer business rates reform after many restaurants and pubs saw their bills rise in April.

“The current rates regime is rigged against hospitality businesses as it penalises growth and investment as higher turnover invariably leads to higher rates,” said Nicholls.

“We will now be looking for reassurances from ministers on a commitment to rates reform in the Budget later this year.”

There will be no Queen’s Speech next year, instead yesterday’s announcements will cover a two-year period to give MPs more time to debate Brexit legislation.

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