25 April 2024


Hospitality sector being priced out of existence says Hospitality Representatives from across UK and Ireland.

At a meeting in Belfast hosted by Hospitality Ulster, trade bodies representing hospitality businesses across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have called on suppliers and government to help their hospitality businesses before it is too late.


The industry bodies have warned that irreparable damage is being done to one of their economy’s most important sectors through continued price increases and government inaction and failure to mitigate surging costs.


Faced with price increases from suppliers, increased labour costs and consumers with less money in their pocket, hospitality businesses have been forced to increase prices and reduce staff as businesses struggle to break even, with many going out of business as they simply cannot cover the costs.


News headlines may be showing a reduction in inflation, but this is only because some consumer products have fallen whist others, like alcohol, continue to rise. In essence prices are rising slower than last year but they are still rising and still putting pressure on hard-hit consumers.


Calling on suppliers to absorb future increases where possible, the trade bodies fixed their focus firmly on their respective governments, stating that the biggest case of business failure was government failure to realise that the world had changed, and hospitality businesses need a new taxation model to survive.



Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster said today in a damning statement:


“At what point do Governments actually start to realise the pressure that the hospitality sector is under here?”


“We are seeing in the media that there is a steady stream of establishments going to the wall each week, restaurants and pubs that have been in business for years are being lost. We all see it, they must too. The pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and ever shifting consumer trends have all had their individual impacts, yet the approach government has towards taxing the sector hasn’t moved with the new realities.”   


“There is no alternative. A contracting hospitality sector won’t just bounce back, it is being attacked on multiple sides. Owner-managers who just about have their head above the water aren’t optimistic and are shattered emotionally, physically, and financially by struggling to make ends meet. We are not talking about balancing a monthly cashflow here, we are talking about the complete depletion of cash reserves and savings to try and save the last vestiges of hope.” 


“It’s long overdue that the entire taxation system around the hospitality sector is reviewed – VAT, Rates and Employer costs must be reduced – these are all within the control of the government.”


“We are constantly forced to fight fires every single day, which leaves no time at all to look to the future of the sector. The odds seem to be stacked against us, and we must ask, to what end? If the greedy government tax us out of existence, then they won’t have the benefits of what we know was once a vibrant sector ever again. We can see and feel that customers are now at the ceiling of what they can afford with their own disposable incomes as households continue to scale back.”


“We now need to see core priority areas dealt with urgently, the picture could not be clearer about what needs to happen. Without focus on the sustainability of the hospitality sector we won’t meet tourism targets, fewer businesses will mean overall reduced contribution to the government’s coffers and taxation will have to rise again for the businesses that are left in a never ending circle of decline.”