The new leader of the Conservative party and Britain’s next Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has faced an immediate call from the leader of the leading hospitality trade body for swift and decisive action to prevent business failures, job losses, and mass restaurant and pub closures.
Chief executive of U.K. Hospitality Kate Nicholls today offered her congratulations to Truss, who overcame former chancellor Rishi Sunak in the race to replace Boris Johnson, in a contest decided by the Conservative party membership at lunchtime on 5 September, before wading in with her wishlist. The segue was as swift as the predicted crisis is severe for hospitality businesses in London and across the U.K.
“We very much look forward to working closely with her and the new Cabinet in the coming weeks, as we strive to save the hospitality industry, which is experiencing crushing cost rises,” Nicholls said. “The new Government must act quickly and decisively to address the soaring energy bills that are facing consumers and businesses.”
Nicholls outlined what the trade body believes is the “right package of support”:
- A reduction in the headline rate of VAT for the sector to 12.5 percent
- A business rates holiday — as in the pandemic, a deferral of the property charges paid on top of rent
- The deferral of all environmental levies — taxes designed to incentivise energy efficiency and carbon reductions
- The reinstatement of a HMRC Time to Pay scheme — a payment plan, which spreads the cost of owed monies to the Treasury
- Reintroduction of a trade credit insurance scheme for energy
There is reason for the urgency and the size of the wishlist. Since while a U.K. energy regulator sets a price cap for household energy bills, no such limit exists for businesses — and the volatility in the market is leaving restaurant owners not just with enormous bills but also mounting insecurity around energy contract renewals and / or insurance policies attached to them.
“Pre-pandemic, our industry spent £10 billion a year in high-street regeneration and employed 3.2 million people but with energy bills for hospitality businesses rising 300 percent on average — and as high as 750 percent in some cases — we desperately need a package of support put in place if we are to be able to play our part in the U.K.’s economic recovery and growth,” Nicholls said.
Stay tuned for more on the energy crisis facing restaurants on Eater London soon.