Pubs, clubs, hotels and restaurant owners in Scotland were disappointed by Jeremy Hunt’s Budget, dubbing it a missed opportunity, it is claimed.

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association welcomed news there is to be a freeze on alcohol duty on draught beer and cider in pubs from the beginning of August, but Colin Wilkinson, the body’s managing director, said: “I think the reaction of the licensed trade in Scotland is one of disappointment at what wasn’t mentioned in today’s Budget.”

Endorsing the tax relief of up to 11p for draught beer and cider, Mr Wilkinson said: “This is good news and a good start to helping the struggling hospitality sector get back on its feet.

“Our pubs and bars have suffered enough since the onset of the Covid pandemic so this new policy from the UK Government – the ‘Brexit Pub Guarantee’ – certainly gives many businesses some hope for their future.

“The UK Government should now go further and consider further duty differentials on other alcohol products sold in our pubs and bars if it really wants to save our industry – something we have been advocating for at least the last two years.”


He said: “We are concerned about the impending change to the system for duty rates for alcohol which is due to change from August 1 – when today’s change will also kick in.

“For alcohol content under 8.5% duty will be reduced but for wine and whisky it will increase substantially.”

He also said: “The Chancellor, if he were to reduce VAT for hospitality, would be sending out a clear and unequivocal message that he recognises the importance of the sector to the economy.

“We need to see a host of urgent measures to help businesses, including a reduction in the rate of VAT and lower business rates.

“It really is a case that every penny is a prisoner and the ongoing significant impacts of a tide of unprecedented challenges, with huge increases in the cost of energy, rates and post-Brexit challenges in recruitment, are not going away.

“Add to the mix the highly-publicised concern across the hospitality sector about the impact of Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS) and the proposed restrictions on alcohol advertising sponsorship which will impact on many everyday aspects of pub life and we continue to be in the midst of a perfect storm.”

Elsewhere, the founder of a company that specialises in securing early-stage investment for start-ups across Scotland and the UK believes additional childcare support measures announced today will “break the single biggest barrier preventing women getting into entrepreneurship”.

Helena Di Biase, managing partner at Glasgow-based Raising Partners, said: “The additional childcare provision for children aged one and two is probably the single biggest thing that will improve the number of women working across all sectors, but particularly the ability of those to enter entrepreneurship.

“I think we will see a huge number of women exploring entrepreneurship after having a baby because they will have a guarantee of childcare provision, which until now just hasn’t existed or has been completely unaffordable."

Ian McConnell: Hunt picture of economic mastery at odds with reality

Anyone listening to Jeremy Hunt’s Budget speech today could easily have gone away with the impression the UK Government was single-handedly rescuing the country from its cost-of-living crisis, while somewhat miraculously fending off recession.

The Chancellor has developed quite the talent for presentation, and he deployed this to the maximum as he talked about Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to halve inflation.

Tourism chief warns 'survival is looking bleak' after Budget

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt today declared the UK would avoid falling into recession this year, but Scottish tourism chiefs have warned the decision to press ahead with the rise in corporation tax “will be a burden too heavy to bear for many”.

Today’s Budget has been slammed for its “glaring” lack of support for small firms, as distillers branded the decision to hike Scotch whisky duty by 10.1 per cent as a “historic blow”.

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