Pubs and restaurants are set to drop their prices today as part of a VAT protest. The chains and breweries are taking part in 'tax parity day' in a bid to show the Treasury that a drop in VAT would lead to increased sales.
A price reduction of 7.5 percent in pubs and restaurants would not encourage most people to dine out more, according to a survey on the ITV News Facebook page.
Most respondents believed the price cut was too small to make a difference, such as Caroline Caunt who said:
I would hardly say that a £1.50 reduction on a £20 main course would encourage me to dine out....!
– Caroline Caunt
Christine Wood disputed claims from protest organisers that a VAT reduction would boost the economy:
Lower prices wouldn't create more jobs, the few staff they employ now would have to work harder, that's how it works these days.
– Christine Wood
Steve Clarke was also pessimistic about the wider benefits of lower VAT for the hospitality sector:
If they dropped VAT for food outlets the lost money would have to be made up somehow, and guess who would end up footing the bill... So we'd end up no better off and the food companies wouldn't get any more business.
Cutting the VAT paid by pubs and restaurants would "revive moribund high streets", said JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin as his pub chain joined those slashing prices in today's tax protest:
The Government and the public yearn to revive moribund high streets, and our proposals will provide a massive shot in the arm, especially in poorer areas.
Supermarkets pay virtually no VAT in respect of food sales, whereas pubs pay 20 percent . This disparity enables supermarkets to subsidise their alcoholic drinks sales to the detriment of pubs and, indeed, restaurants.
Leading pubs and high street food outlets are due to give customers a treat today as they drop their prices as part of a VAT protest.
The chains and breweries are hoping to highlight the advantages that lower VAT would bring in increased sales as part of a campaign to convince the Treasury to drop VAT for catering outlets from the current 20%.
Pub chain JD Wetherspoon is one of the chains taking part in the 'tax parity day' organised by the VAT club started by French businessman Jacques Borel.
The campaign claims that a reduction in tax would increase sales and employment, generating more income and increasing the amount paid to the Treasury.