Autumn Statement: The rise of business rates and living wage threatens indoor play

Indoor Play operators are anxiously awaiting Wednesday the 22 of November Autumn Statement and already calculating the potential worst case financial impact that the rise in business rates and increase in minimum wage will have to their businesses. They are operating in one of the sectors most severely stuck by the Covid pandemic which saw the closure of over 100 indoor playcentres nationally, a number that continues to rise.

The Association of Indoor Play (AIP) stand with the hospitality sector under the UKHospitality umbrella. UKH last week submitted a letter to the Chancellor – signed by more than 230 business leaders and celebrity chefs - outlining the importance of the upcoming Autumn Statement and what is required from it to ensure the sector can thrive and not continue its struggle merely to survive. 

Tom Filer, AIP Committee and Chair of the UK Hospitality Leisure subgroup as well as Owner of the Oceans Adventurers Group comprising two indoor playcentres and 7 nurseries said, “the potential increase in the business rates alone will have a £20,000 impact on the bottom line across our 2 playcentres. We have calculated a further hit of £25,000 for wage increases.”

A recent business confidence survey of indoor play and leisure operators revealed that 75% would raise prices if business rates bills rise in April. It also showed that 75% would reduce staffing levels, 53% would reduce investment, 38% would reduce opening hours and 28% would close sites. Continuing on this course with no government action or support 15% of the businesses surveyed would risk failure and a further 18% were uncertain. This follows price increases and reductions in trading hours already made in the earlier part of the year to absorb spiralling food and utility costs. “Quite simply put, the government is making indoor play and leisure less accessible and more expensive for families at a time when it is needed most for young children and families,” said Janice Dunphy, Chair of AIP and owner of The Web Adventure in York. “The majority of our sector is comprised of family owned businesses who have already had a tough time just getting through the pandemic and many are still servicing their bounce back and CIBL loan debts, not to mention Covid rent arrears."

Indoor Play operators have called for the Chancellor to freeze the business rates multiplier, extend the 75% hospitality & leisure relief, and increase the cap to at least £2m. With energy prices remaining stubbornly high and an anticipated hike in the National Living Wage, including an extension to those aged 21 and above (which is the core age of workforce in indoor play), this support is vital.

Business rates support can cushion the sector from these costs while allowing us to invest – in our businesses, our people and our communities. Business rates and the increase in National Living Wage represent the immediate pressure the sector is facing, closely followed by VAT.


About AIP

The Association of Indoor Play (AIP) is the Trade Association for the indoor play sector in the United Kingdom. It is a not for profit organisation set up to be the voice of the Indoor Play Sector AIP represents approximately 1,100 operators with indoor play facilities ranging from single site play cafes and role play centres to multi-site businesses.
The indoor play industry contributes £308m to the Treasury each year and employs more young people than an average industry as some 65% of employees are under the age of 25, equating to 14,400 young people.



For more info

Maria Cantarella | Operations Director | Association of Indoor Play 

Office Tel. 0203 951 8640


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