British Hospitality Association (BHA) chief executive Ufi Ibrahim has reported a “positive” meeting with the Treasury about the call to reduce VAT for the industry. In a note to BHA members, Ibrahim said she had begun discussions with Treasury ministers and officials yesterday. “The outcome of the meeting was positive. Further working sessions have been agreed for Treasury and BHA experts,” she said. “These meetings will provide the platform for a joint review of the VAT issue and will identify the need for any further research. We are currently using a comprehensive report by Deloitte, courtesy of Merlin Entertainments and Bourne Leisure, which powerfully argues the case for a reduction. “The action we are taking will benefit every member and would be impossible without a strong association acting on behalf of every hospitality business in the UK.” The BHA argues that Britain’s VAT rate of 20% makes UK tourism “uncompetitive” compared to almost all key European competitors. For example, France’s rate is 5.5% on hotel accommodation, with Italy’s at 10%, Spain’s at 8% and Germany’s at 7%. Ireland is also reducing VAT for the hospitality sector from 13% to 9% on 1 July 2011. The BHA discussions were arranged with the help of tourism minister John Penrose, who earlier this year said he didn’t believe a VAT cut was likely within the current Parliament. The British Beer & Pub Association is among the other groups campaigning for a reduction in VAT for the sector. M&C Report’s sister publication The Publican’s Morning Advertiser is urging the rate to be cut to 5% for its Thrive on Five campaign.