Wetherspoon, ALMR And BBPA Back Tax Equality Day To Highlight Need For VAT Cut

Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin is calling on pub and restaurant operators to show their support for a Tax Equality Day on Wednesday September 20.

And he has the backing of both the Association of Licensed Multiple Operators (ALMR) and the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) who are calling on their members to join in too.

Each of Wetherspoon’s 900 plus pubs in the UK will be cutting the price of all food and drink by 7.5 per cent on the day.

The Tax Equality day is aimed at highlighting the benefit of a VAT reduction in the hospitality industry.

Prices at Wetherspoon pubs will be reduced for one day only, in order to show the benefits of a VAT cut.

At present all food in pubs is subject to 20 per cent VAT, compared to supermarkets which benefit from a zero VAT rate on the vast majority of food products.

Mr Martin said: “Pubs suffer a huge disadvantage paying about 16 pence in business rates per pint versus about two pence for supermarkets.

“In addition there is a huge VAT inequality and unfairness.

“A reduction in the level of VAT on a long-term basis will create a level playing field and generate growth and jobs in an important and vital industry – especially in beleaguered high streets.

“We’re aiming to make it the busiest day of the entire year in our pubs and would urge other pub and restaurant operators to participate too.”

British Beer & Pub Association chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, said: “Tax Equality Day is a great opportunity to shine a light on how unfair VAT is for both pubs and the wider hospitality sector.

“If you buy a meal in a supermarket you pay no VAT, but in the pub you pay 20 per cent.

“Even a small drop in the VAT rate for eating out, to 15 per cent, would create 78,000 jobs and would be a big boost for the economy.

“I hope pubs will get behind the campaign.”

Association of Licensed Multiple Operators (ALMR) chief executive, Kate Nicholls, added: “ This is a great opportunity not only to highlight the disproportionate burden of tax borne by pubs and restaurants, but also the difference in tax levels between going out and eating and drinking at home.

“Pubs and restaurants are paying around a third of their turnover in tax compared to a fifth for big supermarkets and a cut in the rate of VAT would help address this unfairness and allow pubs and restaurants to invest in their businesses, their teams and their communities.

“Our latest research shows that a cut in VAT would give the average adult £500 more in disposable income, giving hard pressed households a breathing space as well as a boost to consumer spending which could be worth £19 billion to the UK economy.

“Two thirds of customers have said that they would spend more if VAT was lower and just over half said that they would spend more on eating and drinking out.

“As business rates and rising inflation continue to squeeze the sector, a cut in VAT not only levels the playing fields in terms of fairness, it is also a simple way to help boost a vital engine of economic growth.

“That’s something we must all support.”