'We may be busy, but we are busy losing money': Hospitality sector warning ahead of autumn statement

The road ahead is tough, a stark warning from the man in charge of the UK’s finances.

The chancellor is due to announce his fiscal plan later this week with Jeremy Hunt is preparing “eye-watering” cuts to public services.

The Bank of England has warned we are entering into the longest recession in 100 years.

Interest rates are the highest they have been in nearly 20 years.

A pretty bleak picture of the state of the economy.

Sectors like hospitality are early indicators of how people are feeling the pinch.

Pubs and restaurants are under no illusion they rely on discretionary spend, in other words people will only spend big once all their other bills are paid for.

Colin Neill, from Hospitality Ulster, says: “People are cutting back and not coming out twice a week.

“Whilst we may be busy, we are busy loosing money.

“All of the costs are making it tough to make any money at all.

“Come January, we will see challenges as people hold back after Christmas as new tax rises bite.”

Wages aren’t stretching as far as they once did, things look set to get more difficult before they get better.

Lisa Wilson, Nevin Institute of Economic Research, says "many people are already living this, things have been bad for a long time".

"Its a very frustrating place to be, you are looking at an economy that is stuck, it's stagnant," she says.

People can be working for the last 20 years and not be any further ahead in terms of what they consume, what living standards they have.

The big sector which fears cuts the most is health, where do you begin to strip back a service that is already under pressure and struggling to deliver with its current budget.

Rita Devlin, from the Royal College of Nursing, says “the health service is collapsed, there is no other word for it”.

“It is underfunded and has been under lead for quite a number of years," she says.

“I don’t know where they are going to save the money they can’t take anymore out.

“We are at rock bottom at the minute.

“We at times seem to be penny wise and pound foolish.”

Some of the most vulnerable in society are fearful the autumn statement this week could impact them

Benefits claimants and those on universal credit are hoping for an inflationary rise to the money they get from the government, anything less and the waring is that would have dire consequences.

Deirdre Heenan, from Ulster University, added: “The fear is the chancellor will renege on the promise from Rishi Sunak earlier in the year that he would uplift benefits in line with inflation.

“If he doesn’t that will be a divesting blow to families across NI.

“This is the poorest region of the UK and it would push more families deeper into poverty.”

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