Carla Lockhart said:
“Our hospitality industry is in crisis. I am speaking with local businesses who are virtually empty on what should be their busiest week of the year. The much-anticipated injection of revenue so badly needed to make up for the past year, and to help businesses get over the next few months, has evaporated. Hospitality venue owners are at their wits end and many fear they cannot get through this latest crisis.
Whilst the NI Executive will be able to provide modest supports, we need support from the Government. Earlier in the pandemic when hospitality was facing closure the Chancellor cut VAT for the industry to 5%. Whilst this has now increased to 12.5%, the plan is to return to a VAT rate of 20% at the end of March. That is now an unsustainable position for the Chancellor to hold. He must rethink. I had tabled a motion in Parliament calling for the 12.5% rate to be extended but now the situation is much worse. 5% rate would lift a huge burden from these businesses.
I have written to the Chancellor calling for the emergency 5% rate to be reinstated. I hope he listens. We must do what we can to protect these businesses, many of which are family owned and employ thousands of local people.”