The 2022 Queen’s Speech officially reopened Parliament by outlining policies including temporary business rates relief, permanent pavement licenses, and city centre recovery.
Prince Charles delivered this year’s speech with reference to a selection of the 38 bills to be passed this year.
They include the Levelling up and Regeneration Bill, which removes pavement licensing red-tape and gives councils and residents the powers to force landlords to let out empty commercial properties to regenerate high streets to combat the post-pandemic decline in town centres; and the Non-Domestic Rating Bill, which will provide £1.7bn of temporary business rates relief in 2022-23 for up to 400,000 retail, hospitality, and leisure properties, and also intends to modernise the business rates system with more frequent property revaluations.
“This Queen’s Speech had important aspects but is still a missed opportunity as far as the night time economy is concerned,” says Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA, which represents some 1,200 independent bars, clubs and live music venues across the UK.
“We welcome the announcement of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which the Government hopes will drive local growth and empower residents to transform their local areas. It is welcome that the Government plans to allow councils to offer permanent pavement licenses, and also that councils will be given new powers to ensure empty premises are brought back into use.
“But we feel there is an opportunity missed to include the agent of change principle in legislation, which would safeguard and nourish grassroots music. We will continue to lobby the Government for the inclusion of this principle as this legislation makes its way through Parliament.”
More widely, Kill welcomes the Government's focus on the cost of living crisis and the economic picture facing businesses, but says there was a dearth of solutions that will provide meaningful relief to consumers and businesses.
“In truth, what is needed is an emergency Budget,” he continues.
"The Chancellor says he is waiting until there is less volatility in the markets before taking a decision on intervention, but the truth is that might be much too late for large parts of our sector.
“Businesses are facing soaring energy bills and still have debt hangovers from the pandemic, and are being forced to put up their prices even while they know, that as the cost of living crisis increasingly bites, consumers will be looking to cut down on their monthly expenses and night’s out are likely to be among the first things they choose not to spend on.
“Given this context, we need urgent action from the Chancellor.”
'Little immediate relief' for businesses
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, also notes that more needs to be done to support businesses in the short term.
“There’s plenty in this address that will unshackle our businesses, to better enable them to create growth,” she says
“History shows us that hospitality is capable of driving growth across the nation, being in every village, town and city it is uniquely placed to deliver the Government's priorities and drive levelling up, generating jobs and economic growth.
“It must be recognised, however, that the measures in today’s speech will do little to bring immediate relief to the pains that hospitality businesses are feeling in the short term, so we urge the Government to ensure that regulatory reliefs come as soon as possible, to help struggling businesses stay afloat.”