The FWD has criticised several of the measures announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt.
On the energy price guarantee, FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “The Chancellor’s confirmation that the energy price guarantee will end in April 2023 leaves many questions unanswered, and many wholesalers vulnerable in the new year.
“Urgent clarity is needed on how vital aspects of the UK economy such as the food and drink supply chain can be protected through energy support to ensure that food remains affordable, healthy and of a high quality.”
Reversal of the alcohol duty freeze was also condemned by the FWD: “Instead of encouraging people to participate in the UK’s hospitality sector, this policy u-turn will make enjoying alcohol in foodservice settings more expensive and less attractive for consumers during a cost-of-living crisis,” said Bielby. “Inflationary increases will be passed through the supply chain, with hard-pressed consumers ultimately footing the bill.”
With reference to continuing with the reformed IR35, Bielby said: “This move may compound labour shortage issues, and we would urge the Government to work with Defra to understand which gaps in the labour market need to be plugged and to expedite new measures for these gaps to filled.”
And on personal taxes, he commented: “Government spending should support the right people, organisations and places. The end of poorly targeted tax breaks are welcome and the money saved should be used to support those who need it most. Workers in the food and drink supply chain will see the end of the national insurance tax rise, but will no longer benefit from the 19% income tax cut. We hope measures that support workers in this vital sector can be considered in the fiscal plan on 31 October.”
Bielby concluded: “The past month of Government back and forth over tax policy has been majorly disruptive for food and drink wholesalers already facing a number of challenges, including food price inflation, energy price rises, and labour shortages.
“Forecasts will now need to be torn up and updated, and businesses will be reassessing hundreds of variables as we approach the Christmas peak. What businesses need is the Government to commit to stability and to provide clarity over the mid-term direction of policy.”
Published Date: October 17, 2022