In addition he abolished business rates for 2020 for small retailers and businesses in the hospitality sector with a rateable value of less than £51,000.
Describing pubs as the centre of community life, he additionally raised the business rate discount from £1,000 to £5,000 for small pubs.
“We’ve already promised to introduce a business rate discount of £1,000 for small pubs but I’ve heard calls from many colleagues and right honourable members that we need to do more for pubs, especially given the possible impact of coronavirus on our pubs,” he stated, “Today, exceptionally for this year, the business rate discount for pubs will not be £1000, it will be be £5,000.”
The UK Chancellor also unveiled a £1 million support package to promote Scottish food and drink outside the UK alongside a £10 million R&D environment package to support the environmental decarbonisation of distilleries.
And he promised that the UK government will continue lobbying the US administration to remove the harmful tariffs on UK spirits exports to the US.
Commenting on the Chancellor’s announcement of a freeze to beer, wine and spirit duty Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said, “The decision to freeze wine and spirit duty is welcome for British business, pubs and the wider hospitality trade. While he has not cut duty, it is reassuring to see that in his first Budget as Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP has taken steps to address the UK’s excessively high duty rates.
“He has shown he’s in touch with British consumers – from all walks of life – who want to enjoy a drink without getting stung by further tax hikes. In particular the UK’s 33 million wine lovers, a large proportion of whom are women, are expressing a sigh of relief after they were singled out for a duty rise at the last Budget.”
Here, in welcoming the UK Budget duty freeze Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan commented, “The UK currently has the fourth-highest aggregate rate of excise on alcoholic products relative to EU countries, which puts undue pressure on small drinks producers in particular”.
However she added, “We are seeking clarity on the Budget statement which announced £1 million to market Scottish food and drinks, including Scotch Whisky, overseas. Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream Liqueur in Northern Ireland have equally been hit with 25% tariffs from the US as part of the Boeing/Airbus trade dispute so they should be provided with similar support.”
Over six million cases of Irish whiskey, Irish Cream Liqueur and gin were produced in Northern Ireland in 2019, more than 80% of which was exported to markets other than the UK or Ireland.
“More needs to be done by the UK Government to support this very important sector in Northern Ireland,” she concluded.