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Food: VAT

Question for Treasury

UIN 41325, tabled on 18 August 2021

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a permanent lower level of VAT for all food and beverages sold in pubs to support the pubs and brewery sector.

Answered on

10 September 2021

In order to support the cash flow and viability of around 150,000 businesses and to protect over 2.4 million jobs, the Government has applied a temporary reduced rate of VAT (5 per cent) to goods and services supplied by the tourism and hospitality sectors, which will now end on 30 September 2021. On 1 October 2021, a new reduced rate of 12.5 per cent will be introduced for these goods and services to help affected businesses manage the transition back to the standard rate. The new rate will end on 31 March 2022.

The Government has been clear that the reduced rate of VAT is a temporary measure. It is right that, as restrictions are lifted and demand for goods and services in the tourism and hospitality sectors increases, this relief is reduced and eventually removed in order to rebuild and strengthen the public finances. This policy will cost the Exchequer over £7 billion and, while the Government keeps all taxes under review, there are no plans to make the reduced rate of VAT permanent.

VAT raised around £130 billion in 2019/20 and helps to fund key spending priorities. Any reduction in tax paid is a reduction in the money available to support important public services, including the NHS and policing. While all taxes are kept under review, any decision to grant new permanent VAT reliefs would have to be balanced by a reduction in public spending, increased borrowing or increased taxation elsewhere.

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