Reduce VAT so pubs can take on supermarkets

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I enjoyed reading the column “a good pint needn’t break the bank” which focused on the balance between improved choice of real ales found in an increasing number of pubs in East Lancashire and the cost of said pint.

It comes as no surprise I enjoy my fair share of good beer, after all, my party leader is Nigel Farage, a man quite often seen drinking in the real ales pubs of Kent.

Sadly, pubs are in serious trouble not only in Lancashire but across England. Many pubs are dying because regulars simply can’t afford to be regulars any longer. With upward pressures on beer duty, VAT and other costs associated with being a landlord, the price of a pint has gone up while supermarkets are selling it at a loss.

Now, in no way do I advocate a minimum price on alcohol like they have in Scotland – it serves to only punish responsible drinkers more – but a levelling of the playing field is absolutely necessary. Landlords need to be freed of much of the tax and legislation that stores such as Tesco and Asda do without.

I would like to see pubs, and any catering and hospitality business for that matter, have their level of VAT reduced drastically to allow them to compete with supermarkets. France and much of Continental Europe protect their hospitality trade with lower levels of VAT and the result is bars are staying open and employing people.

This is something to consider sooner rather than later before any more local pubs call for last orders one final time.

Paul Nuttall

UKIP Burnley MEP