The past two years have been incredibly difficult for our hospitality industry and I know that there is real concern about the future of pubs and the hardship caused by the coronavirus outbreak, particularly following the downturn in trade resulting from the Omicron wave we saw in December. Whilst nearly all coronavirus related restrictions have been lifted, it has been clear for some time that our economic recovery will need continued support.
Fylde is home to a proud hospitality and tourism industry, providing key local employment, including numerous pubs. I have been proud to champion this industry, particularly over the last two years, where business owners and staff have shown their resilience and flexibility. I have met regularly with industry figures both locally and nationally, and raising their concerns directly with Ministers. This has included asking a number of Parliamentary Questions to the Chancellor and other Ministers about how the Government can best support the sector.
I am pleased that the Government acted upon these calls and, in response to the rise of the Omicron variant, the Government provided businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors with one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises. Further support through the Additional Restrictions Grant was made available for businesses most in need, which local authorities have discretion to allocate within their areas. The Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme was also reintroduced.
Throughout the pandemic, pubs have benefitted from a range of grants such as the one-off Restart Grants which were made available to help businesses reopen safely, worth up to £18,000 for hospitality, leisure, accommodation, personal care and gym businesses. The reduced VAT rate of 12.5 per cent and option to defer some VAT payments until March 2022 are continuing to support businesses, as is the UK-wide Recovery Loan Scheme which has been extended until June 2022.
Announcements made in the 2021 Spending Review will directly help to support pubs as they adapt and recover from the pandemic, with a five per cent cut to duty rates on beer and cider. I am told that this is the biggest cut to these duties in 50 years and almost 100 years, respectively. The hospitality industry will also benefit from frozen alcohol duty rates which will continue from 2021-22 into 2022-23.
Expanding on the business rates holiday introduced in response the pandemic and the 66 per cent relief which remains in place for 2021-22, a new relief will be introduced for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties. This will see over 90 per cent of retail, hospitality and leisure businesses receive at least 50 per cent off their business rates bills in 2022-23.
Beyond this, the Autumn Budget 2021 confirmed that duty rates on beer, cider, wine and spirits will be frozen for another year, a move which will save consumers £3 billion over the next five years, and provide further support to the hospitality industry and its suppliers as they recover from the pandemic. Duty rates on draught beer and cider will be cut by 5 per cent, taking 3p off a pint and further supporting pubs.
I was glad to see the announcement in the Autumn Budget 2021 that, following a review, the alcohol duty regime is to undergo a major simplification. The old system was outdated system that set rates based on historical anomalies, and a new regime will be fairer to both consumers and producers, and promote product innovation in response to evolving consumer tastes. This radical simplification of the duty system will reduce the number of main rates from 15 to 6, and tax products in proportion to their alcohol content.
All tax categories, such as beer and wine, will be moved to a standardised set of bands, with rates for products between 1.2-3.4 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV), 3.5-8.4 per cent ABV, 8.5-22 per cent ABV, and above 22 per cent ABV. Above 8.5 per cent ABV, all products across all categories will pay the same rate of duty if they have the same proportion of alcohol content. Registration and payment will also be simplified, and the practice where individual products have different administrative rules will end.
The new progressive manner in which alcohol is taxed will ensure higher strength products incur proportionately more duty, and these rates will be the same across all product categories. This change will address the problem of harmful high-strength products being sold too cheaply, and the new rates for low strength drinks below 3.5 per cent ABV will encourage manufacturers to develop new products at lower ABVs, giving consumers greater choice and greater options to drink responsibly.
I welcome the introduction of a new small producer relief which will build on the previous success of the Small Brewers Relief, which will benefit cidermakers and other producers of lower ABV drinks. This will allow small producers to diversify their product range to other products below 8.5 per cent ABV while still benefitting from reduced rates.