Budget 2021: disappointment for the high street and the travel industry is overlooked once more

With the focus of today’s budget on the hospitality industry, investment and innovation, the retail and travel sectors are left wanting.

Disappointing for the high street

Jacqui Baker, Director for Retail at RSM UK comments on the Chancellor’s Budget announcement:

‘Today the Chancellor promised a budget that would ‘start the work of building our future economy’. But for retailers in need of long term solutions to an underlying broken high street model, the Budget didn’t meet the mark and focused too heavily on the immediate term. Whilst the extension of the furlough scheme and business rates holiday are welcome, it was disappointing not to see more done to level the playing field between big online retailers and bricks and mortar stores with appropriate taxes. 

‘There will certainly be a lot of interest come ‘Tax Day’ from the sector on 23 March to see if these long term issues factor into the Chancellor’s consultation plans. Whilst the re-start grants of up to £6k per store go some way to addressing the costs of reopening, some retailers are still struggling to access existing grant support due to EU state aid caps which brings to question how effective these grants may be.’

Travel industry overlooked again

Ian Bell, Head of Travel and Tourism at RSM comments on the Chancellor’s Budget announcement:

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‘The travel industry was overlooked again today by the Chancellor in his budget announcement. For a sector that has been impacted more than any other by the pandemic and with holidays currently illegal until the start of the Summer, it’s surprising that this disregard by Government continues. Many travel businesses remain in survival mode and cash management is critical until customer confidence and bookings return.

‘The results of the Global Travel Taskforce on 12th April will hopefully provide more certainty on the reopening of the sector. In the meantime, the ability of travel businesses to carry back trading losses for three years to release tax refunds of up to £760k could provide a much needed cash lifeline for many if they can get their 2020 accounts and tax returns prepared and filed quickly. Together with the continuing furlough arrangements, any cash boost until international travel can restart is vital.’

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