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King’s Lynn, Swaffham and Hunstanton businesses react to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement





West Norfolk pubs are at odds over the impact new Government measures will have on them – while customers have been warned to expect price hikes despite tax cuts.

During his Autumn Statement on Wednesday, the Chancellor outlined what has been described as the “biggest permanent tax cut in modern British history for businesses”.

Mr Hunt set out a business rates support package worth £4.3billion over the next five years which will “help high streets and protect those small businesses that are the backbones of communities”.

The owner of The Red Lion pub in Swaffham is not impressed by the Autumn Statement. Picture: Google Maps
The owner of The Red Lion pub in Swaffham is not impressed by the Autumn Statement. Picture: Google Maps

Meanwhile, a National Insurance tax cut from 12% to 10% will come into effect for 27million working people from January. Additionally, a National Living Wage rise is expected to add £1,800 to the average annual earnings of a full-time worker.

All alcohol duty has also been frozen until August next year, aiming to provide a boost to both pubs and drinkers.

This has been met with positivity from Jacob Seed, the director at The Lattice House in Lynn – which reopened earlier this year.

Mandy Bahar, who runs The Daily Grind, has warned that she may have to increase her prices in the new year
Mandy Bahar, who runs The Daily Grind, has warned that she may have to increase her prices in the new year

He said: “This is welcome news to us and our customers because any opportunity for us to manage our costs will enable us to offer a better quality of service and product to our customers and will also increase job security for our staff members.

“We also welcome the freeze on alcohol duty especially given the astronomical hike our customers had to swallow back in September.”

However, Robert Bartram, the owner of The Red Lion in Swaffham, has described the Chancellor’s plans as “nothing more than pre-election rubbish”.

He said that freezing alcohol duty and business rate discounts will make little difference for his venue, and believes more of a focus should have been placed on helping businesses tackle electricity, gas and water prices.

Lucy Johnson, who started up Support Your Local in Hunstanton earlier this year
Lucy Johnson, who started up Support Your Local in Hunstanton earlier this year

He says that “unfortunately”, he will have to pass on those increases to customers – and is expecting “grim times ahead”.

Lucy Johnson, who runs a small business called Home Polish in West Norfolk and set up Support Local Hunstanton earlier this year, is pleased with the changes announced on Wednesday.

“If they are dropping the tax, it is definitely a positive thing for me and it will benefit us all,” she said.

“We are currently going through an expansion, so it will help us bring prices down to be more affordable for the customers.”

She said that Mr Hunt’s plans have boosted her confidence in the Government, and added: “There was not much help when electric supplies went up for small businesses, and with money being a struggle people have not had enough money to spend on smaller businesses – so it supports us by giving us less tax to then be able to keep our prices low for customers.

“If we look at customers, if they are getting more minimum wages then it benefits my pocket as they will be able to spend more.”

Mandy Bahar, who runs The Daily Grind cafe on London Road in Lynn, is also pleased to see tax cuts put in place for businesses.

However, she is more sceptical about the impact wage increases will have on the viability of small businesses. Her cafe has been open for seven years, and she has warned that she may have to raise prices for customers come the new year.

“I am happy if there are any kind of cuts, they are here to help,” she said.

“With minimum wage going up, my girls are going to have to be paid more, so I always feel like they (the Government) don't really give you anything because they get it back in lots of other ways.

“I just take every day as it comes. I think when you are in any kind of business, whether it be big or small, you do have to just play it by ear and hope you will be there for another seven years – but nothing is set in stone.

“With the National Living Wage going up I will manage the best I can. It just means there will be a price hike for my customers in January.

“I don't have a huge workforce, but I will have to pay and that will have to come from my customers. That is something I try really hard not to do, because if you increase your prices then you lose a percentage of your customer base – especially if they are older people.”

Additional reporting from Molly Nicholas and Rebekah Chilvers



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