Pubs call for VAT reduction ahead of Autumn Statement

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Ever-eroding cliff edge: 60% of pubs need a VAT reduction as part of the upcoming Autumn Statement (Credit: Getty/cacaroot)
Ever-eroding cliff edge: 60% of pubs need a VAT reduction as part of the upcoming Autumn Statement (Credit: Getty/cacaroot)

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More than half of pubs want a reduction in VAT from the upcoming Autumn Statement to help keep their business “profitable”, a snap poll by The Morning Advertiser has revealed.

Of the 95 survey respondents, 60% said they wanted to see Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announce a VAT reduction in next month’s Autumn Statement, while 21% felt an extension to business rates relief would be most beneficial.

In addition, 11% wanted to see more done to support the sector with energy bills and 7% called for a reduction in beer duty while 1% felt the scrapping of rules around takeaway pints would help pubs.

Licensee of the Walmer Castle pub in Notting Hill, Greater London, Jack Greenall, told The Morning Advertiser​ a reduction in VAT to around 12.5% for hospitality firms would be “massively appreciated” and help keep businesses “profitable”.

“We’re hugely disadvantaged against supermarkets and our European neighbours. It's the common-sense thing to do, and it would be a lifeline to many of us in this industry.

“It would help us be competitive and swallow up some of the inflationary pressures so we don't have to pass everything on to the guest; we want consumers to be able to afford to come to us”, he said.

Cliff edge 

Echoing Greenall, the Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) similarly called on the Government to cut VAT for the hospitality and cultural sectors.

The association has also partnered with Save Our Scene UK to launch ‘Culture Calling’, a campaign advocating for a VAT reduction to 12.5% as part of the Autumn Statement.

NTIA CEO Michael Kill said: "The Culture Calling demonstration is an opportunity for us all to come together and show our unwavering support for the businesses and artists who make our nightlife and cultural scene so unique.

“We urge the Government to listen to our collective voice and reduce VAT to 12.5% in the Autumn Budget. It's time to secure the future of our culture and economy."

Showing support for the campaign, Night-Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester, Sacha Lord, added: “Everyone knows the cliff edge we are at and yet, our cries for help and support are falling on deaf ears.”

However, ahead of the announcement, due to take place on Wednesday 22 November, Hunt told Sky News he was “preparing for the worst” when drawing up the statement, describing the short-term economic outlook as “very challenging”.

Speaking to Sky News, Hunt said: "I am very much hoping for the best but I do need to prepare for the worst because I think we can see that the world is a very dangerous place right now.

Uncertain economic future 

"The numbers are definitely worse than what I faced in the spring. Debt interest is likely to be £20bn to 30bn higher this year than was predicted.”

Though British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) Emma McClarkin previously claimed the Autumn Statement was a “golden opportunity”​ for the Government to support hospitality businesses, in particular with regards to beer duty and energy costs.

Elsewhere in the sector, UKHospitality (UKH) chief executive Kate Nicholls said the Government needed to extend busies rates relief and freeze the multiplier.

Moreover, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Nik Antona told The Morning Advertiser​ pubs were “teetering over an ever-eroding cliff edge”.

He said: “Licensees, brewers, and cider makers all face an uncertain economic future as they don’t know what their business rates or energy bills will look like in the next year. 

“The Chancellor must use the Autumn Statement to help pubs, social clubs, brewers and cider makers, otherwise more communities across the UK risk losing their locals​​ forever."



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