Urgent Economic Intervention Needed to Prevent Collapse in Sector
Image Credit: House of Commons/Jessica Taylor
Stirling MP Alyn Smith has urged governments at the UK, Scottish and local level to take seriously the plight of hospitality businesses across these islands, and implement rapid, targeted support for an industry vital to so many communities.
Leading a Westminster Hall debate into the issue, Mr Smith implored UK Government Ministers to cut VAT on food, soft drinks and alcohol to 5%, amidst a wider package of reforms and support aimed at shoring up a sector witnessing severe strain amidst the cost of living crisis.
Mr Smith is calling on government everywhere to back:
– A VAT cut to 5% on food, soft drinks and alcohol bringing the UK closer to EU averages – bureaucratically slim, based on turnover, and can be deployed quickly
– Business rate reform – urging the Scottish Government to move swiftly in a wholesale review of business rates, in light of a changing post-pandemic economy, and for other governments to do likewise
– Tougher regulation on energy companies and consideration of further market intervention amidst continued high energy bills An overhaul of work visas to plug labour market shortages, only exacerbated by Brexit
Stirling MP Alyn Smith said:
‘Our pubs, restaurants, hotels and cafes play a vital role in our communities – they keep our high streets busy, they’re community hubs, they give us a sense of place and purpose. Particularly in rural communities, if the pub or cafe goes they just become dormitories. Hospitality promotes social mobility – how many of us had our first job in the local bar or restaurant, pulling pints, waiting tables or doing dishes?
‘Both the UK and Scottish Governments, along with local authorities, must wake up and realise the calamity facing the sector – the beer and pub sector alone accounts for 936,000 jobs and £26 billion to the economy UK-wide – in Scotland that’s 62,000 jobs and £1.8 billion in tax receipts. The wider hospitality sector employs 3.5 million people in one-form or another – that’s £54 billion in tax receipts.’
‘These businesses are at the sharp end of an economic crisis not of their making, and it is the duty of government to step up, step in and prevent a vital pillar of the UK economy from falling over.’
The full speech can be viewed here.