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SLTA Outlines Wish List For New UK Government

SLTA outlines wish list for new UK Government

The SLTA (Scottish Licensed Trade Association) has outlined its wish list for the new Labour UK Government following the General Election on July 4.

Key asks from the SLTA include:

  • A reduction of VAT for the licensed hospitality industry
  • A long-overdue review of the commercial rating system
  • A pledge on no duty increases and duty differential
  • A relaxation of immigration restriction/Scottish passport
  • No business or personal taxation rises, mitigation support for increased labour costs and capping non-domestic energy prices

SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson commented: “Nothing on our wish list is new – it’s what we’ve been calling for over many years now. However, the General Election presents us with an opportunity to reiterate to the new UK Government that the licensed trade and hospitality sectors really do need some help.

“We particularly highlight the need for the UK Government to reduce VAT for licensed hospitality businesses. The temporary reduction of VAT from 20% to 5% introduced in July 2020 gave support to around 150,000 businesses in the UK and protected over 2.4 million jobs in the overall hospitality and tourism sectors and saved many businesses from going under during a very difficult trading period.

“While we are now past the Covid-19 pandemic, the unprecedented rises in inflation, business operating costs – particularly food and energy costs – and severe staff shortages mean that the current trading conditions are seen as just as challenging, if not more challenging, than during the pandemic.

“For many businesses, a cut in VAT would have an immediate, positive impact on sustaining business viability, maintain job security for over 228,000 people who work in the hospitality sector, and provide new jobs in a sector which is a key driver of Scotland’s economy, supporting £1.6 billion of economic activity.

“It would be proportionate, easy to administer and would bring the UK into line with our European neighbours, improving our competitiveness in attracting both domestic and foreign visitors.”

On reviewing the commercial rating system – a call from all of the home nations within the UK – the SLTA asks that there is an understanding that here in Scotland licensed hospitality businesses are disproportionately burdened with commercial rates charges in comparison with other business sectors north of the Border and in comparison with licensed hospitality businesses in other parts of the UK.

Accepting that the commercial rating system is devolved to each home nation, he added: “An urgent and complete review of the system in England would give impetus for the Scottish Government to do likewise under its somewhat stalled ‘New Deal for Business’, introduced to renew its relationship with the business community in Scotland which saw the government as being ‘anti-business’ and out of touch with the sector.”

Mr Wilkinson said: “In partnership with the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, the SLTA has already called for the introduction of a permanent non-domestic rates licensed hospitality-specific multiplier of 35p to support our pubs and bars, encourage investment, help revitalise high streets, and rebalance the disproportionate business rates burden.

“This would end the sticking plaster policies that only provide temporary relief for the businesses that bring life to our communities, and our city and town centres, where we are seen as the saviour of the high street, and provide one of the largest ‘tourist attractions’ for visitors to Scotland with over 75% of foreign visitors and 68% of domestic visitors using our pubs, bars and restaurants during their stay.”

Commenting on the SLTA’s ask on no duty increases and duty differential, Mr Wilkinson added: “Duty increases are always unwelcome and simply contribute to price inflation. When it comes to duty decreases this is, of course, very much welcomed, especially by the large producers and retailers, and makes a significant difference to that sector. However, when it comes to SME businesses what would make a difference is having a complete overhaul of the UK’s alcohol excise duty system. 

“The SLTA has previously called on Westminster to introduce new measures that would create a ‘differential’ between alcohol sold in pubs and bars, and supermarkets. We believe that reducing duty for alcohol sold in pubs and bars would help sustain the licensed on-trade as it recovers from the pandemic and Brexit, and faces the current economic challenges.”

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