John Penrose Video Interview: Hospitality industry still needs to show Government why its VAT cut is different

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

In a wide-ranging, exclusive video interview for BigHospitality, Tourism Minister John Penrose has ruled out making a VAT cut for the hospitality industry a long-term ambition for the Government and has said businesses still need to show why a cut would be so beneficial.

Penrose said the Treasury receives a number of professional proposals from various industries promising 'jam tomorrow' if they receive a tax cut. He argued the hospitality industry was yet to show the Chancellor why its cut was different and would be more beneficial to the wider economy than other sectors also lobbying for tax relief.

Cynical

"One of the things the industry has to do is to work out how it can show that its proposal is different and it has to convince people at the Treasury who are wearily cynical," he told BigHospitality.

The industry, he said, needs to show that: "While the miners and the farmers and everybody else may be promising the same things, the hospitality industry is better at producing it and better at delivering it. That is a tough ask - I think everyone in the industry understands that but that is the kind of credibility that we have got to establish if we are going to get anywhere with this."

Earlier this year Jacques Borel, who is leading one of the more high-profile campaigns for a VAT cut for the industry, redesigned the logo of his VAT Club to reflect the focus a cut could bring to employment​ in the UK.

Announcing the industry jobs event The Big Conversation​, Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants managing director Patrick Dempsey told BigHospitality a co-ordinated show of the employment strength of the industry could help its lobbying power​ with the Government on issues such as VAT.

Surprised at criticism

Penrose also expressed 'surprise' at criticism emerging from the inaugural British Hospitality Association (BHA) Summit in May​ and denied the Government was not listening to industry wealth creators or was all talk and little action.

The Minister also revealed he had appointed a 'Star Chamber' to investigate what proposals the taskforce investigating red tape and regulations​ had suggested were viable.

Referring to repeated calls for a dedicated hospitality minister​ or Cabinet representative for the industry, Penrose admitted the brief did mean liaising between departments but denied a separate department or role was needed and said Jeremy Hunt, David Cameron and George Osborne were 'on side'.

Other points made by Tourism and Heritage Minister John Penrose:

  • There is still a great deal to do to implement promises made in the tourism strategy published eighteen months ago​.
  • Having less industry figures to talk to would be 'marginally helpful and convenient' but consolidating representative organisations would not help the bodies or the lobbying power they hold.
  • The biggest frustration in the job is the large amount that remains to be done to encourage visitors to explore parts of the country outside of London and use hospitality businesses in various other cities​.
  • Whatever happens with any future Government reshuffles his job is a 'great' one, he would be delighted to remain in post and it is 'one of the best jobs in Whitehall'.

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