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Burger King and Pizza Express call on Sunak to keep cheap food and furlough rules

The bosses of Burger King, Pizza Express and Fuller’s are among more than 160 hospitality chiefs who have called on the Chancellor to extend the VAT cut by another year.

Pub, restaurant and hotel bosses have urged Rishi Sunak to also reduce VAT for on-premise alcohol sales, leisure activities and weddings in next month’s spring budget.

The calls, in a letter co-ordinated by industry body UKHospitality, comes amid uncertainty over when hard-hit venues will be able to reopen.

The Government is set to unveil its road map to recovery following the latest lockdown and timescales for the easing of some restrictions in an update on Monday February 22.

Hospitality bosses have demanded that the reduction of VAT from 20% to 5% on food and soft drinks is extended into the next financial year and also expanded to cover more areas of the sector.

“Should we be allowed to reopen in the run up to Easter, it could also help us avoid having to pass on substantial price rises to customers in early April as a result of returning to a 20% rate, just prior to the Easter trading weekend,” bosses said in the letter.

They have also called for the current business rates holiday, which is currently due to expire by April, to be extended again.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “We are hopeful that, in the coming weeks and months, we can begin to welcome customers back and we know that people will be eager to socialise with their friends and families safely in our venues.

“That means we need to start laying the groundwork now.

“We need to make sure that the hospitality sector is in the best possible position to help rebuild as we done in the past.”

The letter also called for the extension of the furlough scheme, improved loan repayment terms to increase liquidity, deferral of Government-owed debt and replacement of the Job Retention Bonus.

It comes as a group of pub chiefs, including Young’s boss Patrick Dardis and St Austell Brewery chief Kevin Georgel, resigned from weekly meetings with business minister Paul Scully.

In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mr Georgel said: “While Mr Scully has always been respectful and has tried to be supportive of our sector, he has been enormously let down by colleagues from the Cabinet office and other government advisers, who regrettable but consistently demonstrate extreme arrogance and ignorance about our sector.

“As outline, we are not being listed to, but worse than that we are being patronised with politics playing out under the guise of consultation.”

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