Quarter of million TPA beer mats calling for VAT cut extension hit Wetherspoon pubs

Embargoed: 00:01 Monday 16 August 2021

  • The TPA is campaigning to extend the hospitality VAT cut to 2023 and bring alcohol into its scope

  • This could save consumers and the hospitality industry £15.7 billion

  • The ‘Quids Inn’ campaign has secured the support of a range of industry leaders, including the British Beer & Pub Association, Punch Taverns, Alex Proud and more

250,000 TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) beer mats will be rolled out in JD Wetherspoon pubs today. The campaign group is calling on the chancellor to extend the current five per cent reduced rate of VAT, and include alcohol within it. Analysis found that doing this until April 2023 could save consumers and the hospitality industry at least £15.7 billion.


The TaxPayers’ Alliance branded beer mats feature a QR code taking users to a petition calling for the tax cut. This will be delivered to the chancellor before the end of September, when the five per cent VAT rate is currently set to finish. The ‘Quids Inn’ campaign has the support of a range of industry leaders from the British Beer & Pub Association to Punch Taverns, with beer mats also going out to numerous independent venues.


Recent TPA research also revealed that almost one third of the cost of the average pint is tax (£1.15), with punters paying £0.53 per pint in beer duty and £0.62 per pint in VAT. With a VAT cut on alcohol in place, this would go down to £0.16 per pint, making the tax take less than 19 per cent of the total price.


JD Wetherspoon was one of many hospitality businesses to lower its prices following the tax break in July 2020. But it has warned that without an extension, it will have to increase prices by around 40p per meal to match the interim 12.5 per cent rate due to come in at the end of September.


The TPA’s proposed tax cuts would support diners and drinkers while allowing the hospitality sector to fully recover - saving businesses, jobs, and generating economic growth.


PICTURE: Founder and chairman of JD Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, shares a drink with chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, John O’Connell at the beer mat launch event in July


PICTURE: TaxPayers’ Alliance VAT cut campaign beer mats in action at the launch event in July


Danielle Boxall, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

"The five per cent VAT rate has been a lifeline to the struggling hospitality sector, which has been battered during the pandemic.

“However, we shouldn’t pop the champagne corks just yet as pubs and restaurants are still under enormous pressure.

"The chancellor should give British publicans and punters a well earned break by extending the VAT cut, which will protect jobs and cut prices.”


Speaking at the beer mat launch, Tim Martin, founder and chairman of JD Wetherspoon, said:

"People often don’t realise the scale of taxes paid by pubs. 

“Tax should be fair, but the main unfairness to pubs is they pay 20 per cent VAT on food and supermarkets pay nothing, and that puts immense pressure on pubs.

“This particularly hits less affluent parts of the country.”


Hugh Osmond of Punch Taverns said:

“We need government to support us coming out, not in terms of handouts, we just need the right tax environment with rents and rates, VAT and alcohol tax.  

“They need to take a proper approach that enables us to flourish again."


Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:

“We do operate on incredibly small margins, and going into the pandemic it was absolutely the case that we needed to address the very unfair taxation burden that was on the beer and pub sector.”


Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said: 

"Night time economy and hospitality sectors have been decimated by this pandemic, many businesses and jobs have been lost, the remaining businesses are overburdened by debt and over the coming years will require further support in terms of tax relief.

"The government must consider an expansion of the five per cent VAT relief scheme across the sector to include alcohol and door admission to give this £92 billion industry (pre covid), at the sharp end of this pandemic, the best opportunity to survive."


Charlie Gilkes, co-founder of Inception Group, said:

“Hospitality has been devastated by covid-19 over the past 16 months, unable to trade for close to 10, and severely restricted when open. 

“The short term VAT cut has been a help, however it needs to continue in full beyond September and to include alcohol. 

“Bars, clubs and the late night economy have been the worst impacted yet offered the least help and the road to recovery ahead is long and bumpy.”


Alex Proud, founder of the Proud Group, said:

“The hospitality industry, especially pubs, restaurants and nightclubs have had the worst possible 16 months with little or no government help or support. 

“We desperately need the reduced five per cent in alcohol VAT to be extended to help us repay the vast debts we have all taken on in order to survive. Most of us are more in debt than is sustainable, and without this sort of help, the future is bleak. 

“This is the least the government can do to help a trade worth £70 billion and employing three million people.”


Claire Bosi, editor of Chef & Restaurant Magazine, said: 

"If the VAT levels were kept low, on par with our European counterparts, then potentially we can start to pay people more, and then we can grow more of the UK based workforce."


Stosie Maddie, chef-patron of The Parkers Arms, said:

“Extension of the VAT cut is the make or break for hospitality businesses recovery post-pandemic. It would make the difference between life and death for many out there. 

“It is crucial that government listens and keeps it ongoing.”


TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Media contact:

Danielle Boxall
Media Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Notes to editors:

  1. Founded in 2004, the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) campaigns to reform taxes and public services, cut waste and speak up for British taxpayers. Find out more at www.taxpayersalliance.com.

  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.

  3. The TaxPayers’ Alliance found that extending the 5 per cent VAT reduction until April 2023, and including alcoholic drinks would generate at least £15.7 billion of savings. Their petition to extend the cut can be found here.

  4. TaxPayers’ Alliance research found that almost one third of the price of a pint is paid in tax.

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