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Carla calls on UK Government to reduce VAT for hospitality businesses

Carla Lockhart

Carla Lockhart MP has called on the Westminster Government to lower the VAT rate for hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland – a move many business owners have called for following increasing industry strain.

This move, she argues, is crucial to support an industry that is still recovering from the impact of COVID-19 alongside dealing with current economic challenges.

Hospitality as an industry has been amongst the hardest hit following the pandemic. Many beloved cafes, bars and restaurants have been left in its wake – having found no alternative but to close their doors rather than stare down decreasing profit margins.

A recent survey by Hospitality Ulster revealed that a resounding 93% of its members support the lowering of VAT.

However, in a recent poll conducted by Armagh I , only 18% of people advocated for reduced VAT as an aid to hospitality businesses. Instead, 76% of people supported the alternative idea of reducing business rates.

Related: Last orders: Bars and restaurants ‘priced out of existence’ in the last four years

No matter the support or the form it comes in, there is undoubtedly a pressing need for government intervention to provide relief and stimulate recovery in the sector.

“The hospitality industry is a cornerstone of our economy, providing jobs, supporting local suppliers and delivering top-quality services across Northern Ireland. Yet, it is facing unprecedented challenges that threaten the survival of many businesses,” said the DUP MP.

“The Government must act now to reduce the VAT rate for these businesses, providing them with the breathing space they need to recover and thrive.”

The urgency of this call to action is further emphasised by the concerning low levels of optimism among hospitality businesses. Only 16% of Hospitality Ulster members reported feeling optimistic about the future of their businesses.

This stark statistic highlights the fragility of the sector and the need for decisive Government support.

“With such a low percentage of businesses feeling optimistic, it is clear that without intervention, we risk losing many beloved local establishments,” Carla Lockhart continued.

“Lowering VAT will not only help these businesses stay afloat but also preserve jobs and maintain the fabric of our communities.”

“Our Hospitality sector in Northern Ireland particularly needs this intervention in the face of lower levels of rate relief for businesses here. There is no prospect of these businesses remaining competitive in the long-term if they are not provided a level playing-field to conduct their business.”

Carla Lockhart MP urged the UK Government to listen to the voices of hospitality business owners and take immediate steps to lower VAT.

Such a measure, she insists, will be instrumental in safeguarding the future of an industry that is vital to Northern Ireland’s economy and culture.

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