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More than 160 MPs support BHA campaign to cut tourism VAT

04 October 2016 by

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has received backing from 164 MPs to lower tourism VAT.

During a discussion last week at the Arena Face 2 Face Interview at the Landmark London, chief executive of the BHA, Ufi Ibrahim (pictured), announced the level of support from MPs.

She said: "We asked how many MPs would be needed to be in Parliament on a single day to pass a motion. The answer was around 330, so we made that our target. Our members have been contacting MPs and talking about the value of their businesses to make them aware of the opportunities that they bring.

"This is the single, most powerful thing that we can do."

Uncertainty surrounding immigration following Brexit was also a hot topic at the discussion. Over 4.5 million people are employed within the industry throughout the UK and 15% are EU nationals.

Ibrahim stressed that any restriction on immigration would damage the hospitality sector and explained that the BHA was working to ensure that hospitality businesses are represented as the government sets its negotiation priorities.

MW Eat, a group of Indian restaurants in London, has a workforce made up of 60% EU nationals.

Ranjit Mathrani, chairman of MW Eat, said: "The one thing our government can control is immigration. This is not a negotiation brought on by Brexit. Brits aren't prepared to work. They want more salary, they won't work Fridays or weekends, for example. We aren't a nine to five job; our peak time is between 7pm and midnight. We need an immigration structure or we will see many businesses start to close."

Ian Wright, director general of the Food and Drink Federation, feared that if immigration controls change, the retirement age would rise.

He said: "There are over 400,000 workers in food manufacturing. One third of those are EU nationals. We must know our exit route in great detail before pressing the exit button and signing Article 50."

Phil Sermon, managing director of Italian restaurant chain Vapiano, employs workers from over 18 countries. He believes it is important to take this opportunity to encourage the government to make the process easier to employ workers not only from the EU but from around the world.

Sermon said: "The recruitment market is tougher now. If we are able to look at the world to bring talent in, not just Europe, then we would have a more positive industry."

BHA calls for reassurance that EU workers can stay following Brexit >>

Reduce trade deficit through VAT cut, says BHA >>

The spice of life: how MW Eat transformed London's Indian restaurants >>

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