A £12bn stimulus to cushion the expected effects of the coronavirus outbreak was the main feature of yesterday’s UK Budget, which was given a cautious welcome by advertising industry leaders.

The Budget statement “contains positive measures that should help our industry in both the short and long term,” said Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive, Advertising Association.

“In the short term, the Chancellor’s framework of ‘temporary, timely and targeted’ support for businesses and workers, including those in the advertising industry, will assist firms and employees through the current challenges and period of uncertainty brought about by COVID-19.”

For the longer term, he saw a Budget “designed to raise productivity and economic growth across the nations and regions” and indicated that the advertising sector was working with government to play its part.

IPA Director General Paul Bainsfair was more circumspect. “Given we’re seeing the biggest threat to global finances for over a decade, it seems inevitable that UK marketing budgets will take a hit,” he said.

“We’ll begin to see the impact of this in next month’s Bellwether Report. Unfortunately, just as we were starting to see a recovery to budgets following the prolonged bout of uncertainty brought on by Brexit, we are propelled into far more extreme global uncertainty.”

But like Woodford, he emphasised the role of advertising, which he noted “can be especially powerful during a downturn.

“Anything that Government can therefore do to help secure businesses, so that we can help grow them and our own agencies, will be much needed,” he said.

One sector that was raising a glass to the assistance coming its way was hospitality: a freeze on all alcohol duties and the extension of business rates relief to pubs (some will be totally exempt for the next year) means “this has been a great Budget for pubs, pub goers and Britain’s world-class brewing industry”, said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association.

“Pubs pay 2.8% of rates despite accounting for only 0.5% of rateable turnover across the country,” she pointed out. “Such reliefs are vital until the fundamentally unfair system is overhauled.”

Business rates have long been a particular pain point for all brick-and-mortar retailers in their ongoing battle with e-commerce giants like Amazon. 

Sourced from WARC