Budget 2017 – Policy Overview

Key issues for the hospitality industry in the Chancellor’s first Autumn Budget included changes to Business Rates, a review of Tourism VAT, potential taxes on single use plastics, and a freeze in alcohol duty. For all questions, please contact Vernon Hunte, Government Affairs Director, vernon.hunte@bha.org.uk.

 

Business rates
Due to increasing pressure from business, the Chancellor has announced that business rates will move from RPI to CPI in April 2018, two years earlier than planned. This is a small victory for the BHA who have long been calling for such a move. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go in addressing the shortcomings of business rates in their current form, with Ufi Ibrahim labelling the Chancellor’s announcement today as ‘no comfort’ for hospitality businesses.

The Chancellor is also looking to legislate retrospectively to address the so-called “staircase tax” where buildings have been re-assessed on an individual floor by floor basis even if in one occupation. Affected businesses will be able to ask the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to recalculate valuations so that bills are based on previous practice backdated to April 2010 – including those who lost Small Business Rate Relief as a result of the court judgement. To stay up to date with changes in your business rates bill, try RatesCheck.

Review into Tourism VAT into Northern Ireland
In a major victory for the BHA, the Chancellor announced that the Treasury is pressing ahead with plans to review Tourism VAT in Northern Ireland, as previously announced as part of the confidence and supply agreement between the government and DUP following the general election. The BHA and the Campaign for Cut Tourism VAT will be leading the contributions from industry into the benefits of a reduction. We will also be redoubling our efforts into pushing for a reduction in Tourism VAT for all parts of the UK.

Single use plastics
Plans were announced to review the potential benefit of a charge for the use of single use plastics on the reduction of waste. There was little detail surrounding the specifics of any such levy and a call for evidence and consultation period can be expected before any concrete legislation is brought in. The BHA welcomes the implementation of any such tax but would seek assurances that costs would not simply be lumbered upon hospitality businesses.

T-Levels
The Chancellor unveiled an additional £20 million for the upcoming introduction of T-levels. Whilst it is encouraging to see the Treasury putting resources into these new qualifications, the BHA would still like to see the introduction of a T-level in hospitality brought forward from 2022 so that, as we leave the European Union, we can bring through a new generation of British hospitality workers to make up for any shortfall in European labour.

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