Wednesday 25th September, a number of Robinsons’ pubs, together with thousands of other British pubs and restaurants across the country dropped their prices by 7.5% in protest at current tax conditions.
The campaign, called "Tax parity day", has been organised by the lobby group of French businessman Jacques Borel.
Currently customers pay 20% VAT on food and drink consumed in pubs and restaurants.
Campaigners say a VAT cut from 20% to the government's reduced rate of 5%, would generate an extra £1.5bn in taxes in just three years and 600,000 jobs.
Big boost for employment?
Mr. Borel, who has launched similar campaigns in France and Belgium, argues that the current VAT regime is unfair as supermarkets do not charge VAT on food because it is taken and consumed off the premises.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 reporter, Melanie Abbott, Joe Quinn (licensee of Robinsons’ pub The Arden Arms in Millgate) was taking part in the one day price reduction because he believed a tax cut could boost employment.
Commenting on the current tax conditions, Joe says “20% off one pint of beer might not seem like a huge difference, but when you are selling quite a few pints over a year it makes a great big difference. To me personally, it’s probably the difference of £20,000 a year."
Despite these times of austerity, there is a need to reinvest the pub industry. If the cut was to be pushed through, pub licensees like Joe Quinn would have more money to reinvest in the business and more money to pay a decent wage.
“Some of our staff haven’t had a pay rise in quite a few years,” explains Joe, “they deserve one but the money is not there. We’ve got to reinvest in pubs and the money’s got to come from somewhere.”
William Robinson, Managing Director (Pub Division) of Robinsons Brewery also feels a VAT cut would be hugely beneficial to the pub industry:
“If you look at the evidence of what happened in Europe, when the reductions took place in France, there were a quarter of a million jobs created within the year… that’s a fact and there’s a case that a VAT cut in Britain would create similar results. And, let’s remember that 46% of jobs in this sector are in the18-24 year old bracket. This is a key target area and something we should all be concerned about.”
To listen to the full interview with Radio 4 please visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03bdw8f and skip through to about 44 minutes.