Hospitality Ulster Comments On Chancellor Phillip Hammond's Budget Announcements
Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, has welcomed the UK chancellor’s decision not to impose a further duty on wine, spirits and beer in yesterday’s (Wednesday November 22) budget, saying it is welcome news for Northern Ireland’s licensed premises, especially pubs.
Neill commented, "[Yesterday's] decision helps protect our pubs and given that we already had a tax increase on alcohol less than 12 months ago, a further increase would have been a disaster. We are in a period where large supermarkets continue to sell cheap alcohol as a footfall driver, leading to a rise in home drinking and pub closures.’’
Sammy Wilson, DUP MP, who has been lobbying for a freeze on beer duty, also welcomed the decision, stating, "The hospitality sector is a strong performing sector of our economy, helping sustain more than 60,000 jobs across the province. An increase in duty would have been an unnecessary burden on an industry which we should all be supporting and which plays a key role in the Northern Ireland economy."
Meanwhile, Neill also welcomed the government’s announcement of the commencement of a review into tourism VAT rate and Air Passenger Duty (APD).
He stated, "Hospitality Ulster has led the campaign for a reduction in the tourism VAT rate in Northern Ireland, which at 20% puts us at a distinct competitive disadvantage, particularly as our nearest market the Republic of Ireland, has a 9% tourism vat rate.
"We also welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to complete these reviews by the next budget. It is important that such important decisions for the NI economy and for the hospitality and tourism sectors are made in a reasonable timeframe."
Commenting on the review into Air Passenger Duty, Neill said, "It is clear that APD is a competitive disadvantage to Northern Ireland’s tourism offering and therefore our wider economy. The Republic of Ireland, our nearest competitor, abolished their airport tax a number of years ago and Hospitality Ulster would urge this review to do likewise."