Cornish pubs join VAT protest

September 27, 2013 3:15 PM

Cornish pubs joined in a protest across the South West by cutting the price of their food and drink by 7.5% as part of Tax Parity Day, reports The Cornishman. It’s part of a campaign to highlight the benefit of a reduction of VAT to 5% in the hospitality industry. Currently, food and drink in pubs is subject to 20% VAT, whereas supermarkets benefit from 0% VAT.

The protest follows on from French entrepreneur, Jacques Borel, who has campaigned successfully for VAT cuts in restaurants and bars across Europe, including France, Germany, Ireland and Sweden.

‘Our aim is to secure a more equal tax treatment for food sold through pubs, restaurants and food service operators compared to supermarkets,’ he says, ‘which benefit from a zero VAT rate. Our supporters are reducing their prices by 7.5% for one day, as this is the amount we believe prices would fall by if VAT were cut to 5%, as we estimate 60% of any reduction would be passed on to the customer.’

Pubs in Cornwall and Devon are calling on the government to make this reduction. St Austell Brewery reduced prices at its 25 managed pubs, and were joined by 19 of its tenanted businesses. ‘Creating a tax parity between pubs and restaurants and supermarkets will not only benefit consumers,’ says their managing director, ‘who will get lower prices, but the resulting increase in customers will mean more jobs are created in the sector. This could be up to an estimated 670,000 based on the experience of other European countries. St Austell Brewery is fully committed to supporting this campaign.’

Many JD Wetherspoons pubs in Cornwall and Devon joined in too. ‘We are keen to highlight the amount customers would save if VAT in pubs was lowered,’ said their manager in Falmouth. ‘So, for example, the total price of a meal and drinks for a customer at The Packet Station would be reduced from £10 to £9.25 on Tax Parity Day.’

‘We must be as competitive and compete on a level playing field,’ said head of tourism for VisitCornwall. ‘This initiative will clearly demonstrate what a difference it would make if taxation in the UK was at a par with many of our rivals.’

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