Businesses in Northern Ireland are paying higher than average business rates when compared to other parts of the UK. This situation, according to Stephen Magorrian of the Horatio Group who is also the chair of Hospitality Ulster, is causing enormous damage to the hospitality industry at a time when they are crying out for more support from the government.
Hospitality Businesses Receiving Little To No Relief
In many other areas in the UK businesses are being supported through a business rates relief scheme, something which would be most welcomed in Northern Ireland. There are also concerns over the high hospitality VAT rate of 20%, the effects of inflation and the shortage of staff to work in hospitality.
Here is what Mr Magorrian is quoted as saying, as copied from an article in the Belfast Telegraph. He said that:
“Our latest industry survey has shown that only 22% of hospitality businesses are optimistic about the next 12 months, and listening to members about their concern over the future of the industry is a bleak reminder of the position we find ourselves in,” said Mr Magorrian.
“Non-domestic rates remain one of the biggest threats to the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland, and it is astounding that we still find ourselves paying more than our counterparts elsewhere in the UK and receive little to no relief like they have in England.
“Business owners also have to grapple with one of the highest hospitality VAT rates in Western Europe. We need to see some recognition of this vital industry in the form of VAT reduction so that Northern Ireland’s hospitality sector can properly compete with the likes of the Republic of Ireland, who currently has a VAT rate of just 13.5%.
“The situation in our pub sector has been made even worse by the instability caused due to the ongoing review of the licensing structure which is being undertaken by the Department for Communities.
“This is a time when we should be embracing this sector and using it to help kick start the economy again. We are the fourth largest private sector employer and a sector that can generate real revenue — we just need support when there are so many external factors applying so much pressure on us.”
The Industry Is A Volatile Environment
And in the same article Michael Cadden, owner of Lusty Beg Island Resort and Pat’s Bar in Enniskillen, is quoted as saying:
“As a business owner, I know too well the pressures that other businesses are facing in what can only be described as a volatile environment.
“I look forward to working alongside Stephen and our team on the office to voice these very real concerns, advocating strongly for such a vital industry to our economy.”
Hospitality is such an important sector for the economy in Northern Ireland and so it is vital that they are given the support they need at this crucial time.