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HOSPACE: Innovation welcome, government invited - Ed's letter

This year’s HOSPACE excelled at doing what HOSPACE does: bringing the sector together and helping it plot. There were more heads together on the sidelines than plotters trying to oust the PM as hospitality proved that it may be beaten, but it is never down.

Innovation, creation, imagination, it was all bubbling over before, during and after. And it did our souls good to see it.

For these remain tricky times, as the Chancellor announced nothing that cheered very many in the sector during his Autumn Statement. Despite the longest-running campaign in the history of campaigning - and a number of pre-Brexit promises - VAT was not lowered.

It was announced that Business Rates relief for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors would be continued at 75% for 24/25, but only for small businesses. Everybody else would see 6.62% rise on their business rates bills next April - ahead of the forecast rate of inflation.

John Webber, Head of Business Rates at Colliers, described it as “the last straw” for some businesses, adding: “Nowhere else in Europe do businesses pay approaching 60% the rental of their premises in property taxes and at current levels this is unsustainable and deters new investment in businesses, despite the Chancellor’s claims”.

The national living wage will also increase, causing general unhappiness to many a bottom line.

BII CEO, Steve Alton commented: “As small businesses at the heart of their communities, many run by independent operators, the rise in the national living wage to £11.44 per hour will hugely impact the profitability of their venues. Whilst we welcome measures that protect workers, there must be recognition of the impact this mandated increase will have on our small pub businesses.”

But back to those nodding heads. HOSPACE was, as ever, a showcase for the latest technology to guide and assist all areas of operations, ready to help organise teams more efficiently, bring in more revenue renting out your parking spaces and drive loyalty by letting guests order their favourite burger while hanging out in the pool.

The government is very good at giving the impression that hospitality in the UK is one pub somewhere on the Yorkshire Dales, permanently banked in snow and serving warm beer while an old Jack Russell sleeps in front of a fire. The message that this is a thriving industry of innovators, who could excel further with better understanding, has passed it by. Next year maybe they should come to HOSPACE.


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