JDW boss reiterates calls for tax equality

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Tax equality: JDW chair Tim Martin said if pubs were to survive and thrive in the future, the sector needs to be treated fairly
Tax equality: JDW chair Tim Martin said if pubs were to survive and thrive in the future, the sector needs to be treated fairly

Related tags Jd wetherspoon Managed pubs Legislation Tax Food

JD Wetherspoon (JDW) chairman Tim Martin has repeated his calls for pubs to have tax equality with supermarkets in order to “survive and thrive in the future”.

He reflected on when the pub company opened its first site in the late 1970s when he said pubs accounted for 90% of all beer consumed in the UK.

Martin claimed in the year before coronavirus hit (2019), pubs lost half their beer trade to supermarkets.

Catastrophic trade loss

He wrote: “And the pandemic, of course, accelerated the trend. Supermarkets, which stayed open during the various national and regional lockdowns temporarily grabbed 100%, more or less, of beer sales.

“We humans are creatures of habit, of course, so once we’d got used to drinking at home, on the beach, in the park or in a pal’s garden, it was far harder to persuade people to return to the pub than most imagined - especially given the whopping price advantage that supermarkets have.”

The JDW boss claimed pubs suffering “such as a catastrophic loss of trade” was down to VAT on food bought in pubs in 1979 being at 8% compared to the 20% it is at today against food in supermarkets being VAT-free.

Fair treatment

“The reality has been supermarkets have been able to subsidise the selling price of beer, using their VAT advantage," he said.

“And, as if that were not enough, pubs also pay far more business rates per pint than supermarkets – about 25p a pint in pubs versus about 2p in supermarkets.”

He went on to say the large pub companies should be campaigning for tax equality with the off-trade.

Martin added: “To be fair, the pub industry hasn’t much helped itself. Instead of campaigning for tax equality with supermarkets- fairness and equality are sound principles of taxation – the big pub companies, over the decades, have only campaigned for temporary help when the going gets tough, as it undoubtedly is today.

“But when the going gets tough, it’s tough for everyone, so the public sees requests for favours in downturns as unjustifiable special pleading. Instead of campaigning for temporary help, the big pubcos should campaign for equality, something that everyone understands.

“Let’s not beat about the bush. If pubs are to survive and thrive in the future, generating a huge number of jobs as well as vast funds for the Treasury, they have to be treated fairly. Fairness means tax equality with supermarkets. Anything short of that means continuing decline for a once-great British institution.”

Related topics JD Wetherspoon

Related news

Show more