Two federations representing 35,000 restaurateurs and caterers have backed a call to reduce VAT to 5% for hospitality businesses.
The Federation of Bangladeshi Caterers (FoBC) and Asian Caterers Federation (ACF) both called for 100,000 people to sign an online petition.
The FoBC represents around 12,000 Bangladeshi restaurateurs and takeaway owners. The ACF represents around 23,000 pan-Asian establishments. ACF members are primarily Chinese in origin, but encompasses pan-Asian establishments, including Indian, Thai, Malaysian and Japanese. There are 5,000 Chinese eat-in and a further 10,000 takeaways in the UK. There are also more than 8,000 south- and south-east Asian establishments in the UK. The combined totals number some 35,000.
The FoBC has been petitioning government on a host of issues from immigration, skills shortages, education and unemployment since it was founded in 2008.
The FoBC chairman, Yawar Khan, first raised the VAT issue with Chancellor George Osborne at a meeting in February 2012, highlighting how the Bangladeshi community, many of whom run small business, were being damaged by the recession and rise in VAT.
"Restaurant customers don't always realise that the Chancellor is taking a huge slice every time they settle their bill," said Khan adding, "Apart from the £10 VAT on every £50, restaurateurs are paying National Insurance, corporation and income tax on any profit that's left - not to mention local council rates and excise duty."
To support its campaign the FoBC has posted a petition on www.Change.org in the hope that restaurant owners, their staff, suppliers and customers will help achieve the target of 100,000 signatories required to spark a debate on the floor of the House of Commons.
To sign the petition visit www.change.org/petitions/cut-vat-from-20-to-5-in-the-hospitality-sector-and-create-270-000-new-jobs