Restaurants put VAT cuts at the top of their pre-election menu

Restaurants Association of Ireland calls for action to stem ‘staggering’ rate of closure

RAI chief executive Adrian Cummins: ‘My members are crying out for help to save their businesses and livelihoods, and no one is listening.’  Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

RAI chief executive Adrian Cummins: ‘My members are crying out for help to save their businesses and livelihoods, and no one is listening.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

A cut in the VAT rate back to 9 per cent tops the Restaurants Association of Ireland’s (RAI) list of 10 “asks” ahead of the general election.

The RAI also called on parties and candidates to commit to “immediate” reform of the insurance sector, address skills shortages and promise not to force independent restaurants to publish calories on menus.

The association’s chief executive, Adrian Cummins, said action was needed to stem the “staggering” rate of restaurant closure across Ireland.

“My members are crying out for help to save their businesses and livelihoods, and no one is listening,” he said.

To the objection of tourism and restaurant businesses, the Government restored the rate of VAT on food and drink consumed in hospitality settings to 13.5 per cent at the start of 2019 after eight years of it being at 9 per cent.

The association is calling for a reduction in commercial rates, reform of local authorities and a reduction in excise duty.

The implementation of this new legislation is often done with no thought for small businesses

As well as the establishment of a national hospitality training agency, skills shortages should be addressed through supports for apprenticeships and an overhaul of work permits legislation.

It also said food and nutrition education should be compulsory at primary and secondary school level, while an action plan should be developed for rural tourism.

Recently proposed legislation on the mandatory displaying of calories on menus is “the latest in a long line of new measures that cost businesses money”, Mr Cummins said.

“The implementation of this new legislation is often done with no thought for small businesses that face closure due to spiralling costs.”