The letter outlines the effects that the current economic climate is having on the sector, including causing businesses to close down or scrap openings plans, resulting in jobs being lost, operating margins being eroded, and investments put on hold.
It also outlines the contributions the industry makes to society, including employment of 3.2 million people in the UK, and £130 billion to the economy, while asking for a “grown up partnership” with the government to champion the sector.
“We believe that we are only at the start of the crisis in hospitality. It is vital, therefore, that steps are taken at the forthcoming Budget to support and sustain this engine of economic growth and the contribution it makes,” reads the letter.
“We need a Budget which supports us in the vital role our business will play in delivering a strong economy, productivity and job growth as we go through the 4th industrial revolution and as we exit the EU.”
The requests in the letter to the Chancellor include:
1. Introducing an online revenue tax to freeze business rates increases and introduce enhanced hospitality rate relief over the next two years ahead of the next revaluation to deliver your pledge to level the playing field between ‘bricks and mortar’ and ‘clicks and mortar’ entrepreneurs ahead of root and branch reform – hospitality generates 5% of GDP but pays 20% of all rates, which is unsustainable
2. Doubling the NIC threshold for employers to safeguard youth employment, training and take-home pay – half of all operating costs in hospitality are labour related and we want to have the ability to deliver our pledge to make hospitality the best rewarded sector in the UK and improve productivity
3. Ensure future NLW rates and structure are set independently by the Low Pay Commission, with evidence-based consultation with business taking account of the impact on jobs, the wider economy and take-home pay.
4. Re-introduce hospitality capital allowances – and introduce a business rate moratorium after refurbishment – to incentivise regeneration and investment ahead of root and branch reform of rates
5. Implement the Northern Ireland VAT review on tourism services and extend it to the whole country as well as freezing alcohol duties to promote exports, improve the balance of trade and create new jobs across the country.
Companies that have signed the letter include Azzurri; Burger King; Casual Dining Group, Greene King; Masala World; Novus Leisure; Pizza Express; Pizza Hut Restaurants; Revolution; Shearings; Wagamama; Whitbread; and YO! Sushi.
In September, UKHospitality called on the Government to provide support for a “post-Brexit workforce”, and in March it called for a review and overhaul of the business rates system, as it says hospitality businesses are often penalised.