Fears ‘insurmountable’ business rates rise will hit Bristol’s hotels just as they begin to recover

October 26, 2023

Bristol hotel bosses are warning that a rise in business rates and the scrapping of the relief linked to them for the hospitality sector could deal a fatal blow to some venues as they continue to reel from a series of crises.

The Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) – which represents 40 hotels in and around the city with around 4,000 rooms between them – is adding its voice to calls for Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to take action and prevent a huge business rates hike next April.

Trade body UK Hospitality is claiming that the sector could be landed with an ‘insurmountable’ ‘insurmountable’ £864m bill as business rates are due to increase in line with the official inflation figure the previous September, which stood at 6.7%.

This would amount to an additional £234m for hospitality venues to find while, more alarming, ending rates relief for the financial year 2023/24 would hit them by a further £630m.

The BHA is now writing to the city’s MPs to seek their support, pointing out that the sector is still reeling from the combined impact of Brexit, the pandemic-enforced lockdowns and soaring costs, particularly energy.

BHA chair Raphael Herzog said: “The potential business rates bills next April could be the final blow for some businesses, which is why we fully support UK Hospitality’s calls for the Chancellor to extend the current relief measures for a further year.

“Hospitality businesses have had an extremely difficult time over the past few years.

“We’ve all been trying so hard to recover from this ‘perfect storm’ but if the Chancellor doesn’t take action to support us, I fear that the rug could be pulled from beneath many businesses.

“We’ve had a fairly strong summer and, overall, we were cautiously optimistic about the future, but right now that looks quite bleak after the new figures from UK Hospitality.”

Last month the BHA said average occupancy rates for its members in August was 79.7% compared with 74.4% in the same month last year.

City centre hotels had a rate of 78.4% against 71.9%, while for four-star hotels the average rate was 81.7%, up on last year’s 74.9%.

The average occupancy rate at South Bristol hotels, including at the airport, climbed to 94.8% from 91.9%.

While the figures showed a continual recovery from the devastating impact of Covid on the sector, they are still short overall of the pre-pandemic average August occupancy rate of around 85%.


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