The lobbyist brought in to front the campaign to cut VAT for pubs and restaurants has told MCA Brexit has “emboldened” supporters and expects “significant progress” within the next year.
Chris Guyver, founder of Politics International and Quintus Public Affairs, was unveiled in April as the head of a new campaign backed by the Association of Licensed Multiple Operators, the British Beer & Pub Association and the Campaign for Real Ale.
He told MCA: “Brexit has changed everything – in a potentially very positive way – for our campaign.”
He said the group has written an analysis setting out how a VAT cut for pubs and restaurants could form part of a wider harmonisation of the tax system and could be one element in a series of anti-recession measures.
The campaign is pushing for a new VAT rate designed specifically for pubs and restaurants and Guyver stressed that MPs across the political spectrum had already indicated strong support.
He said: “This was a case that was already recognised to be justified but was consistently batted away because of the constraints of the European Union. That was the one argument that kept blocking the path of this campaign. Now it is gone and there is a broad appreciation that this would not just help the sector but the wider economy.
“Obviously there will be tax receipt implications for the Government and that’s why we want to work very closely with officials to make sure it’s done in a way that is fair to everyone.
“The powers to set VAT are coming back to the UK. Given the arguments we have made and the unique position the Government recognises the hospitality sector is in, we should be able to make some quite significant progress with this over the next year.”
Guyver insisted that meaningful discussions could begin immediately with officials to map out how the system could be implemented after the UK leaves the EU. He said the focus at the moment was to drum up as much support as possible among politicians before presenting the case to civil servants. He also said there was a “crystallising of support” among business leaders across the sector.
He said: “We are feeling emboldened by the possibilities presented by the referendum. It has made us much more confident that we can achieve real change and in a shorter timeframe than we could have hoped for before Brexit.”