Trade campaigners have held a “very positive meeting” with Treasury officials about proposals to reduce VAT for the sector, Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls has told M&C Report. Jacques Borel, the French businessman who helped secure VAT reductions for hospitality elsewhere in Europe, and Nicholls stressed that the move would help create jobs during the meeting that lasted almost two hours. The meeting was specifically for the Treasury’s investigations ahead of the Budget next year. Nicholls told M&C Report: “It was a very positive meeting. “It was a good opportunity for us to go through the research on the impact of reducing VAT, but also giving them a first hand understanding of what it has meant in Europe. “We explained how a reduction in VAT would generate jobs and growth in the hospitality sector.” She said civil servants “generally don’t give much away [about their views] when presenting our ideas to them”. However, Nicholls added: “They were interested. They asked very pertinent questions and they said they would take it into account when presenting to ministers. “But they left us in no doubt about the state of the economy and the difficulties they were facing.” The ALMR is set to raise the issue during the party conferences that take place this autumn. Borel said: “I had an excellent meeting with the Treasury. I explained that across Europe countries like France, Belgium, Germany, France, Sweden and Finland have reduced VAT and seen employment creation results that have been better than anticipated. In France, I forecast a reduction in VAT would create 105,000 jobs. In fact, 225,000 jobs were created. “I explained that we have estimated a reduction in VAT to five per cent for the hospitality sector in the UK would create between 290,000 and 670,000 jobs. Of the savings for companies, we estimate 60% would benefit customers in the form of reduced prices, 20% would be spent on investment and improvements, 15% would be passed on to employees and five per cent would go to increased profits. “The priority today is unemployment and reducing it. I was asked why VAT should be reduced for the hospitality sector. I made the point that VAT should be reduced for other industries where jobs can be created quickly – the construction industry, for example. I argued that the government must re-invest in the form of reduced VAT in those industries where they will get fast results. “Building a rail system to ensure a faster train service between London and Edinburgh might be a sensible five-to-ten year investment, but a reduction in VAT within the hospitality industry will create many jobs in a matter of months.” The Jacques Borel VAT Club has support from 40 leading sector companies including Prezzo, Pizza Hut, JD Wetherspoon, Fuller’s, Shepherd Neame, St Austell, Mandarin Oriental and Charles Wells.