Coastal Tourism and Hospitality: Fiscal Support — [Judith Cummins in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall am 1:30 pm ar 22 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Selaine Saxby Selaine Saxby Ceidwadwyr, North Devon 1:30, 22 Chwefror 2024

I could not agree more with my right hon. Friend that there are many asks for our coastal communities; I have spared the Minister the rest of mine this afternoon. While I am here, however, it would be remiss of me not to mention alcohol duty. The freeze on that duty at the autumn statement was welcome, but it does not directly help our much-loved pubs, which have reported significant price increases from brewers and other producers despite the freeze. A reduction in VAT would leave the choice to pass on and/or reinvest in the hands of the retailer and not with the multinational brewery in the case of alcohol. I have continuously supported the Campaign for Real Ale’s campaign, as it would play a crucial role in stopping our many vibrant pubs and hospitality businesses going under. Whatever the scheme, a reduction bringing us in line with the clear majority of our European neighbours—permanently or even temporarily—would be a lifeline for our hospitality venues.

While talking about great pubs, I will take the opportunity to highlight The Bell Inn at Chittlehampton, as well as Chittlehampton Village Shop, which serves excellent tea and cake; both are finalists in the Countryside Alliance awards, and voting is now open for anyone who would like to help them along.

The potential of the hospitality sector to contribute to economic growth cannot be overstated. UKHospitality’s economic evidence submitted to the Treasury outlines the conditions required for growth, estimating the creation of 500,000 new jobs by 2029 and an annual growth rate of up to 6%. I hope the Treasury will carefully examine the evidence and arguments presented, recognising the immense potential that the hospitality and tourism sector holds for the UK. By supporting the sector, we not only ensure the prosperity of businesses but contribute to increased tax revenues that fund essential public services.

I am hugely reassured to see the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Worcestershire here today, as he has been to see us and understands so much more about our tourism and hospitality sector, particularly in remote coastal locations such as my beautiful North Devon constituency. I hope that may influence some of those critical Budget decisions.