The Spring Budget: Bristol property sector reaction

March 15, 2023

Simon Peacock, South West head of international property agents JLL, said the Chancellor was always unlikely to pull any rabbits out of the hat given the need for stability and to reassure markets.

“Still, those operating in Bristol’s property sector – where demand is outstripping supply – will be hoping for more urgency when it comes to investing in communities across the South West in the coming months,” he said. 

“Reports that around £2.5bn remains unspent from the Levelling-Up Fund will prove frustrating to those hoping for support for underserved communities.

“Those we speak to in the region suggest the government could generate growth if they invested in our local authorities to increase the number and seniority of our city planners.

“Regeneration schemes which can deliver jobs, homes and improved neighbourhoods are being delayed and leading to investors looking elsewhere – until that’s sorted growth will remain hard to come by.”

Meanwhile Bristol hoteliers claimed the Budget had left them out in the cold again after it offered nothing to ease concerns over soaring energy costs.

The Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA), which represents 40 hotels in and around the city with around 4,000 rooms between them, said its members again felt hospitality was the ‘forgotten sector’, despite the substantial contribution it makes to the nation’s economy.

BHA Chair Raphael Herzog, pictured, said: “It’s all fine and well for the Chancellor to extend the energy price guarantee for households, but there was no mention of extending any support for businesses, and our energy costs have been soaring, too.

“The main thing for me is the ‘not going into recession’ announcement, which will boost the morale of our customers and hopefully improve consumer confidence. 

“But overall, the lack of support in this budget was a real blow to sector. We have been working so hard to get things back to some sort of normality following the impact of both Brexit and the pandemic.”

He said Bristol’s hotels were still having significant difficulties recruiting the staff needed to provide the kind of service levels that customers expected from hospitality businesses.

“The only crumb of comfort in the budget was the freeze on draught beer duty, which may encourage people to visit hotel bars and pubs, but that’s cold comfort if the operators can’t afford the energy prices to keep those bars open,” he added.

“Ideally, we wanted the government to ease the rules concerning recruitment in the EU, which would have helped us to recruit from abroad.

“While the childcare measures announced by the Chancellor, designed to enable more Mums to take up work, is welcome, the additional support won’t come in until 2024 and 2025, whereas we need to recruit more staff now.

“But at the very least, some sort of support for our energy bills would have been a welcome vote of confidence in our sector.

“On numerous occasions during the pandemic, we felt that hospitality was often the forgotten sector.

“Hoteliers repeatedly called for the government to maintain a reduced rate of VAT to help get our businesses back up and running post-pandemic, but those pleas fell on deaf ears.

“Now it feels as if we have been forgotten again and I fear this could cause some severe difficulties for the sustainability of some hospitality businesses in Bristol.”


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