Budget relief measures fall short according to the FWD

News that the Government is to introduce temporary business rates relief for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties for 2022-23 has been welcomed by the FWD, but the industry body is waiting for details of the initiative to see if it includes wholesalers.

Under the scheme, eligible properties will receive 50% relief, up to a £110,000 per business cap. FWD chief executive James Bielby commented: “This discount must also apply to the food and drink supply chain which supplies our vital public sector infrastructure in this country and which has received comparatively very little help from the Government throughout the pandemic.”

James Bielby: ‘This discount on business rates must also apply to the food and drink supply chain.’

The FWD also said that the continued freeze of HGV Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) for 2022-23 and suspension of the HGV Levy for another 12 months from August 2022 were measures that did not go far enough to address the driver shortage.

Bielby commented: “The shortage of HGV drivers has been a significant challenge for wholesalers. We welcome the steps announced by the Chancellor today to mitigate the impact of the shortage; however, these measures are no substitute for placing HGV drivers on the shortage occupation list, providing access to a greater pool of labour.”

The Government’s announcement to freeze fuel duty UK-wide in 2022-23 was “very much welcomed” by the FWD, but the trade body questioned the timing of an increase in the National Living Wage. This will boost the pay for individuals aged 23 and over by 6.6% from £8.91 to £9.50 an hour, effective from 1 April 2022.

“Whilst our members support the National Living Wage in providing a minimum wage standard, we have concerns regarding the forthcoming increase during a time of major economic upheaval,” said Bielby.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit have seriously impacted wholesalers’ revenues and disrupted the growth of their businesses. Further costs will detrimentally impact the sector. Looking ahead, there should not be a fixed target to achieve 66% of medium earnings – the Government must and should consider the economic impact such decisions will have on the sector and the wider economy.”

Bielby also commented on the proposed 5% cut to duty rates on draft beer and cider: “Whilst we welcome steps to reduce alcohol duties, creating a distinction between the on and off-trade is a harmful way of doing so. It will create costly administrative burdens for our members and risk an increase in alcohol duty fraud. We would urge the Government to rethink this approach.”

The Government is publishing a consultation on the detail of these reforms, which will close on 30 January 2022.

Tel: FWD (01323) 724952

Published Date: October 27, 2021
Category: Wholesale Industry News