UKHospitality has urged the incoming government to work with it to unlock economic growth, boost skills and opportunities and bring communities together at the formal launch of its election manifesto.
The national trade body for hotels, visitor attractions, pubs and restaurants, which represents a £130 billion turnover industry and is the third largest private sector employer in the UK, renewed its plea for a “root and branch review” of business rates as one of three “core asks” in the run up to December’s general election.
The other key planks of its manifesto call for a doubling of the employer national insurance contributions’ threshold to boost take-home pay by removing the lowest paid from tax altogether, and investment in the Tourism Sector Deal, announced this summer, to help all regions, including “left behind” communties, to prosper.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UKHospitality, said: “Our key message to the main political parties is to work with us.
“We have emphasised to government that we are an important player in delivering their objectives for growth. We want to work with government to unlock economic growth, boost skills and career opportunities.
“We are an industry made up of small and medium sized enterprises. These are entrepreneurs; they are the lifeblood of our high-streets and our communities.”
She added that hospitality, tourism and experiential leisure was the only sector to have seen real “meaningful” growth in recent years, with output forecast to grow by 5.5% in the next three years – outstripping growth of the high street and the economy.
UKHospitality’s manifesto states that business rates are a growing burden and fall disproportionately on hospitality, which “overpays” by more than £4.2 billion, and businesses face higher bills when they improve their premises.
It called for a reform of rates under the new government to rebalance the tax share, make the industry fit for purpose and incentivise investment.
Nicholls said a reduction in business rates would have a “transformational affect” on the hospitality sector.
She added: “Business rates have gone up above the rate of inflation and over the last two years this has triggered more and more business failures.
“The government has promised [rate reform] since 2015; they need to deliver it in their first year. Now is the time to have a genuinely independent enquiry into business rates.”
Hospitality employs 3.2 million people UK-wide, spends £10 billion on capital invesment annually in local communities, and pays £39 billion in taxation.
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