UK government misses alcohol out of restaurant discount

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said the government will provide discounts for eating out and a lower sales tax on restaurant food to kickstart the hospitality industry, but left alcohol out of the offer.

People who go to some restaurants Monday to Wednesday in any week of August will get up to £10 per head off their bill, Sunak said during a mini-Budget statement on 8 July.

The news has been largely welcomed by the hospitality sector, but businesses that rely heavily on their alcohol sales such as bars, clubs and wet-led pubs, stand to lose out.

“It is also good to see that Government acknowledges that our sector has been uniquely hit by this pandemic,” Kate Nichols, the chief executive of UKHospitality, said.

“Customer confidence is key to our sector’s revival and our ability to help Britain’s economic recovery. Applying every precaution to provide safe venues will count for nothing if customers are not coming through our doors. This significant VAT cut, heightened ability to retain staff and incentives for consumers to eat out together amount to a huge bonus. We hope that the UK public rightly sees it as sign that we are ready to welcome them back safely.”

Emma McClarkin, the chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, added that “for those pubs that do serve significant amounts of food or offer rooms to stay in, the cut to VAT for these to 5% will be a welcome boost. Whilst the measures announced today will help food led pubs, those who just serve beer may feel they are left wanting.”

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) went further, and is now calling on the government to extend its tax breaks to venues such as wet-led pubs and breweries with taprooms.

In a Tweet yesterday, SIBA said small pubs and breweries “have been left out of the recovery package announced by the Chancellor.”

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