Birmingham chefs and business leaders call for VAT reduction to stay

Chefs and restaurant owners from across Birmingham and the West Midlands are calling for the planned reversal of the VAT reduction later this week to be cancelled.

High-profile names such as Michelin-starred chefs Glynn Purnell and Andreas Antona have teamed up with the city’s chamber to write to Chancellor Rishi Sunak over the plans.

A temporary reduced VAT rate of five per cent was introduced to help hospitality and tourism firms through the covid-19 crisis but this is due to expire on October 1.

More than 30 business leaders and representatives from the city’s hospitality and dining sector have signed the letter, urging the Chancellor to use his Autumn Budget on October 27 to reform the “outdated” business rates system.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce said the pandemic had had a “pronounced effect” on the hospitality industry and is now calling for several measures to be implemented.

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These include maintaining a long-term reduction in VAT rates in a bid to drive consumer demand over the coming year and extending the current business rates relief system beyond March 2022 by six months.

The chamber also wants the Autumn Budget to reform what it calls the “outdated business rates system” to create a platform which will encourage investment and business growth across the industry.

Vice-president Deb Leary said: “While we recognise the unparalleled support businesses have received during the pandemic, the damaging impact of the covid-19 has been particularly pronounced across the hospitality industry.

“As a chamber, we are delighted to be working alongside the hospitality industry across Greater Birmingham as we call on the Government to do everything it possibly can to help the sector get back on its feet and firing again as we emerge from the pandemic.

“In particular, maintaining a long-term reduction in VAT will play a vital role in fuelling demand and safeguarding thousands of jobs across the industry.

“Ultimately, it’s essential the Government also bring forward business rate reform to ease the massive overheads businesses are experiencing in order to facilitate a return to growth in the long term.”

Mr Antona, chef patron and owner of Simpsons in Edgbaston, added: “We are grateful for what the government has done so far but they now need to recognise that we need long-term support to really get back on our feet.

“It’s far too soon to raise VAT and we need more time to give us a levelling playing-field as we recover from the impact of the shutdowns.”

Mr Purnell, proprietor and head chef at Purnell’s in Birmingham city centre, said: “We definitely need breathing space before VAT goes up again.

“We are going through a honeymoon period at the moment with many people treating themselves to a nice meal out to compensate for not being able to take the holiday they would like.

“But that will not last forever and we need help to return to pre-pandemic levels in the long term. We hope that the Government will recognise that.”

The letter to the chancellor has been signed by:

Henrietta Brealey, chief executive, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

Andreas Antona, owner, Simpsons in Birmingham and The Cross in Kenilworth

Luke Tipping, executive chef, Simpsons

Adam Bennett, chef director, The Cross, Kenilworth

Adam Stokes, chef and owner, Adams and The Oyster Club

Paul Halsey, owner, Pure Craft Bar & Kitchen

Jayne O’Malley, hotel group general manager, The Edgbaston

Sarah Parkinson, assistant hotel general manager, The Edgbaston

Darren Insall, owner, The Edgbaston

Stuart Insall, owner, The Edgbaston

Rick Cressman, owner, Nailcote Manor

Aktar Islam, chef director, Opheem, Pulperia & Aktar @ home

Jabbar Khan, founder and director, Lasan Group

James Hill, managing director, Hampton Manor

Glynn Purnell, chef and patron, Purnell’s

Claire Lisham, PR Manager, Purnell’s

Brad Carter, chef and owner, Carters of Moseley

Alex Claridge, head chef and owner, The Wilderness

Sam Morgan, owner, Craft at The International Convention Centre

Ajay Kenth, owner, Tap & Tandoor, Zindiya, Vita, Greens, Taste Collective

Ann Tonks, managing director, Chapter Restaurant

Irene Allan, restaurant director, Chapter Restaurant

Ben Ternent, chef director, Chapter Restaurant

Jason Kirsch, operations director, Resorts World Birmingham

Ellie Beattie, group sales and marketing manager, Hogarths Hotels and Restaurants

Byron Carnegie, director, Jamaya

Joe Barber, finance director, The Barn at Berryfields

Emma Morgan, general manager, Malmaison Birmingham

Anne Marie Simpson, Simpsons Gin Bar

Mark Tasker, general manager, Crowne Plaza Birmingham

Harpreet Sian, general manager, IBIS Birmingham New Street Station

Michele Wilby, chief executive, Colmore BID

Lawrence Barton, chairman, Southside BID

BusinessLive – West Midlands