The VAT rate for the hospitality industry was slashed during the pandemic to 5 percent but is now back at 20 percent. This comes as owners face major increases in their energy bills and the price of fish.
James Backhouse of Berties Fish and Chips in New Milton on the edge of the New Forest, said: “I’ve done this since I was 13 years old and I’m 45 now. I’ve never, ever seen anything like this.”
He warned that across the country shops are “closing down left, right and centre where they just can’t make it pay anymore.”
Mr Backhouse said energy bills are now such a problem he is considering installing his own generator. His gas bill is due to go up from £750 a month to £2,000-plus.
Andrew Crook, president of the National Federation of Fish Friers pressed for an “immediate reduction in VAT to 10 percent” or a return to the pandemic level of five percent.
Mr Crook, who runs Skippers Fish and Chips in the village of Euxton near Chorley, said the cost of an 18kg case of cod had jumped from £140 during the pandemic to up to £230.
He said: “We’re not asking for a hand-out. We want the system sorted out so we have got a level playing field so that we can do what we do best, which is be entrepreneurial, provide good jobs and provide people with great food.”