'Cut VAT to create jobs'
Hospitality chiefs are calling on the Chancellor to slash VAT in
the Olympic year to encourage more visitors and create 300,000
Kent brewer and pub owner Shepherd Neame and hotel owner Gavin
Oakley want to see VAT cut to 5% or 10% to boost jobs and
The 300-year old Faversham-based brewer has joined a campaign
launched ahead of the March 21 Budget by French leisure
entrepreneur Jacques Borel.
It has been given £240,000 of funding by the Independent Family
Brewers of Britain, representing nearly 30 private family-run
brewers, including Shepherd Neame.
Campaigners claim 5% VAT on food, drink and accommodation would
create up to 320,000 jobs, many in the 16 to 24-year-old age group
which has been hardest hit by the jobs crisis, with more than a
million now on the dole.
Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame said 23 out of 27
EU countries had concessionary VAT rates for the hospitality
He said: "The UK is the only country that has high excise rates
on alcohol which is a key part of the sector and a very high VAT
rate. Both are obstacles to jobs and investment.
"The hospitality sector is quite unusual in its ability to
create jobs, particularly for young people, very quickly. A
reduction in VAT will stimulate jobs and investment in local and
rural communities. This approach has already created jobs in
Germany, Belgium, Sweden and France and we think it will work
"We want the boundaries of tax and regulation pushed back right
across the hospitality sector."
Mr Oakley, of Wallett's Court, a country house hotel at
Westcliffe, near Dover, featured in the Kent Contemporary tourism
promotion campaign, had heard Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's call
in Canterbury for tourism businesses to cut prices by 20.12% in
But most businesses could not afford to do that without a
similar gesture from the Chancellor. Mr Oakley would be hoping for
a VAT rate of no more than 10%.
"We would meet them half way," he said. "We really do need the
support from the government to help us re-invest and continue to
grow. It's a no-brainer as far as I'm concerned."