An Update On Our #empowerindepdendents Campaign


Advocacy lies at the heart of our mission and our campaigning has become a key benefit and reason for members to be a part of and to support NCASS.

For over three decades, NCASS has stood by small businesses, advocating for our sector’s interests. We’ve continuously pushed for policy and legislative changes, sought to elevate our sector’s standing within the hospitality industry and urged the government to provide better support when and where required.

Our members need a voice and we will continue to shout as loud as we can. We will continue to collaborate with government bodies, MPs, and various organisations, lobbying for change whilst always looking to raise the profile of the independent hospitality sector and amplify the voices of our members.

The onset of the pandemic spurred the inception of our #empowerindependents campaign. Since the initial lockdown, we’ve persistently campaigned to enhance and bolster support for the challenging landscape small and micro independent hospitality businesses face.

From the pandemic, to the current cost-of-operating challenges, now, more than ever, we must continue to fight for change and this campaign is geared towards bringing about positive changes that the independent hospitality sector so desperately needs.

Primarily, through this campaign we are calling for a reduction in VAT, which we believe would make a real difference in lessening the pressures on the sector and significantly increase profitability and viability, for micro businesses in independent hospitality.

We have been busy pushing this cause since we launched the campaign, trying to spread awareness among the sector and the general public alike, drawing attention to the issues affecting independent hospitality, bringing the community together and lobbying government representatives at every possible opportunity.

In January, ahead of the March Budget, we submitted an official representation to HM Treasury, declaring what measures we feel are needed in order to support independent hospitality and prevent further damaging business closures.

Over the past few months, we ran a survey asking members and non-members to tell us about their current trading situation, and how much they have been impacted by the cost-of-living crisis, and current VAT stipulations. We have also provided a variety of template letters for businesses and customers to write and send to local MPs, to spread awareness and increase the pressure on government listening and acting.

A huge thank you to everyone who has participated in this survey and used the template letters. We had an amazing response and have used this information as evidence to highlight the present issues that are limiting the sector to government.

75% of businesses told us that a VAT cut would be vital to their business and 82% were not satisfied with the government’s support for the hospitality sector.

Survey respondents also told us that:
• Gross Profit has dropped from between 10% and 45% on average in the last 18 months
• Staffing costs, energy, stock, supplies, rent and VAT payments have all increased
• They have been forced to raise prices and 80% have been forced to reduce overheads by cutting staff numbers

We were all disappointed with the measures announced in the Autumn Budget, where over £4bn worth of support was announced for ‘small businesses and the hospitality sector,’ consisting mainly of 75% business rate relief and freezing alcohol duty rates. However, this only really acted to benefit large corporate hospitality businesses, ignoring the needs of the independent sector.

Alongside associations in the wider hospitality sector including the night-time industries, festivals and events, we have urged government to provide a VAT cut for small and micro hospitality businesses, bringing VAT in line with EU and G7 partners.

We know that more needs to be done to assist the small independent businesses that make our high streets, towns and cities what they are today – every single one forms the heart of its own community, has families to support, employees to pay and ambitions to achieve.

We continue to argue that a greater understanding of and engagement with micro and small businesses will enable better legislation and more appropriate taxation, leading in turn to growth and increased productivity.
Independent hospitality businesses are critical to the economy and continue to make a significant contribution to the UK. We need the Government to recognise how valuable the sector is and treat it accordingly. This is our mission with #empowerindependents and we will continue to keep you updated with our progress.

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Note: The NCASS office will be close from 2PM on Friday 14th June for staff training.