Chancellor’s 2021 Budget announces alcohol duty frozen for second year in a row

Leading SMEs within the hospitality sector respond to the Restart Grants outlined in the Chancellor’s plans, and where more support could’ve been offered

After what the Chancellor has labelled a fundamental alteration to our way of lives, the 2021 Budget has announced for the hospitality sector that all alcohol duties have been frozen for a second year running, saving drinkers an estimated £7.3 billion. Alongside the freezing of these duties, it was also announced that hospitality venues would be granted up to £18,000 in the form of a Restart Grant. 

In response to these announcements, leading SMEs within the sector have responded to how the respective announcements effect their trading.

Luke Davis, founder of seafront restaurant and bar, Rockwater Hove, has commented on the need for injections of capital into the industry.

“As a business owner, the freezing of alcohol duties is welcome news, and it provides a key incentive for guests to return to venues confidently. Furthermore, the Restart Grants do offer venues much needed support for getting the ball rolling on April 12th.

However, we would have liked to have seen more from the Chancellor to help businesses get back on their feet. As he quite rightly pointed out, there are 150,000 businesses in hospitality that have been heavily affected by the pandemic. We need a seismic response that will incentivise cash injections into the sector. One way of doing this would have been to reopen hospitality to EIS investment. EIS has a track record of injecting huge levels of capital into the private sector, and with breweries and pub groups leading several investment rounds to stay afloat during the pandemic, increasing the threshold for eligible businesses” 

Will Broome, CEO of Ubamarket LTD, publisher of hospitality Order, Pay, Stay app NOMM has commented:

“With the periods of lockdown closing the industry, it has come to the attention of many publicans and restaurateurs that in order to meet client demand in a safe manner post-Covid, the implementation of technology will be an essential. The ensuing consequences of the pandemic, has meant that guests are also looking for their favourite venues to host technology that will minimise contact, protecting both guests and servers.

“While the recovery grants that are being reported do provide significant relief for venues, the sector cannot be put in a similar position where they are expected to take on so much debt for inactivity, but not receive the requisite funding for ensuring every guest is safe. With previous schemes from the Chancellor undoubtedly helping the sector in times of need, they have raised concern for public safety. We therefore call upon the Chancellor to look to further funding for venues to have the budget to install protective measures, which will be essential in protecting new team members that are coming out of furlough.”

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