Employer: Kate O’Leary, manager of the Laurels Pub and Restaurant, Killarney, Co Kerry
The 9 per cent VAT rate for hospitality is not being extended. It will end at the end of February. For Kate O’Leary, manager of the Laurels Pub and Restaurant, Killarney, Co Kerry, it is a huge disappointment.
“No matter what way we look at it, it’s an increase of 50 per cent. The Government know the value of VAT which is why it was left at 9 per cent during Covid.
“The support for hospitality during Covid was great but there are challenges now from every angle and the VAT increase today is the biggest disappointment.
“We’re in the middle of winter. When the VAT rate goes up at the end of February, the public will have forgotten the budget and will be looking at us and wondering why prices have gone up.
“The temporary energy supports for business of course are a help but it’s not long term. We need long-term solutions and to know we’re in it for the long haul.
“The buzz words within the hospitality industry right now is ‘trying to keep the doors open’.
“As regards excise cuts, the cuts for home-produced peri cider is a ‘nod’ in the right direction but these are not high-volume sellers. We have the third-highest excise rates on beer in Europe and cutting excise on beer which sells in high volumes would mean something.
“We are not a wine-producing country and we need a level playing pitch there too with cuts in excise duty.
“The reduction in the special exemption application rates to help the night time economy is similar to the peri cider. Late night exemptions mean extra staff, and staff are difficult to get. There are so few night clubs left now. So, again, how many are we talking about? The 9 per cent VAT rate for hotels, bars and accommodation for the entire industry would have kept us happy and it would have comforted us.
“The importance of the hospitality industry is inestimable in towns like Killarney where there are few other industries.
“Hospitality – bars, hotels, cafes and such – does not appear to have been recognised in this budget and we have no hammer to wield against any one political party because there are so many political parties involved.
“The full detail has not emerged and I am speaking for myself but so far I can’t see supports for recruitment and employment in the industry and again I go back to the struggle right now across the hospitality industry: to keep the doors open.”