Alcohol duty set to be frozen for extra six months: Alcohol duty will be frozen until August in a major boost for the hospitality sector. Alcohol levies were due to be increased on 1 February, but chancellor Jeremy Hunt will delay that move for an extra six months until 1 August, reports The Sun. Alcohol duty was due to rise by Retail Price Index inflation early next year, which would have seen a 7p hit on a pint of beer, 38p on a bottle of wine and more than £1.30 added to the price of a bottle of spirits. Taxation of alcohol has been in chaos since September’s mini-Budget when short-lived chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced a freeze on alcohol duty, only for Hunt to scrap it when he took over the Treasury in October. Now he is due to announce he will delay the rise and set new duties on alcohol at next year’s Budget. It comes as new analysis from the Labour Party shows more than 70,000 venues have had to reduce their operating hours this winter due to the price of energy bills. Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds warned: “Hospitality firms having to reduce their hours in their most profitable season is testament of government failure to tackle the cost of doing business crisis.” Businesses are set to get extra help this week with energy support extended beyond March but it is unlikely to be as generous as the current scheme.
Martyn's Law for venue security to cover all of UK: New legislation will be introduced to tighten security at venues in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing. The new rules, dubbed Martyn's Law, will cover all of the UK and require venues and local authorities to have preventative action plans against terror attacks, the government said. Martyn Hett was among 22 people killed in the 2017 attack and his mother Figen Murray has campaigned for the measures. Draft legislation is due in early spring, prime minister Rishi Sunak said. He added he was committed to working with Murray to deliver “this vital legislation to honour Martyn's memory and all of those affected by terrorism”. Martyn's Law will follow a tiered model linked to the type of activity taking place and the size of the expected audience, and will seek to improve how prepared a venue is without putting an undue burden on business. A standard tier will apply to locations with a maximum capacity of more than 100 people. Venues will need to undertake low-cost effective measures such as training, information sharing, and completion of a preparedness plan. An enhanced tier will focus on high-capacity locations. Those that can hold 800 or more will be required to undertake an additional risk assessment that will inform the development and implementation of a thorough security plan. The government will also establish an inspection and enforcement regime, issuing sanctions for breaches, and will provide statutory guidance and bespoke support. Night Time Industries Association chief executive Michael Kill said: “The government has worked with the sector and listened to important feedback from our members at ground level, where proportionality is key and support is given to businesses who need it the most. The industry has been preparing for the implementation of these new laws for some time, building on established operating protocols, but in all cases will require further detail, framework and robust industry guidance before implementation. We must also consider the impact on the private security sector, with security resource numbers during the pandemic reaching an all-time low. We will need to consider increasing licensed operative numbers leading up to the implementation of these new laws to ensure we do not fall foul of resource challenges. ‘Standard tier’ operators will require more support, in particular, they will need structured guidance, a clear framework to ensure they are compliant, but given the thresholds released today I feel the considerations are proportionate and achievable for smaller businesses.”
KPMG – recession will last until end of next year: The UK has already entered a “shallow and protracted recession” that will hit living standards and last until the end of next year, according to new analysis. KPMG estimated the economy entered a recession in the third quarter of this year and will contract by 1.3% next year owing to a sharp drop in consumer spending amid rising interest rates, reports The Times. This will be followed by a partial recovery in 2024, in which GDP could rise by 0.2%. “In terms of duration, the expected six quarters of contraction is the longest continuous fall in GDP the UK has faced since quarterly data were compiled in the 1950s,” the consultancy’s report said. The labour market will start deteriorating from the first half of next year, KPMG predicted, with the unemployment rate reaching 5.6% by mid-2024, representing an increase of about 680,000 people. The analysis also said, however, that inflation peaked in October and would fall. The consumer prices index hit 11.1% in October as prices rose at the fastest rate in 41 years. KPMG expects the index to fall to just under 4% by the end of next year. Separately, new data showed recruitment activity may be slowing but is still well above pre-pandemic levels, suggesting the skills shortage remains acute. Vacancies have fallen in the final months of this year but pre-covid comparisons show a significant increase in jobs and placements in November, based on the latest figures from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies, the trade body for the professional recruitment sector. Permanent job vacancies were up 46% between November 2019 and November this year and contract vacancies rose 16%.