Budget supports crucial for pub trade

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) says the upcoming Budget must contain measures that will support the pub trade during what promises to be a challenging 2022. The Federation is calling for a continuation of the commercial rates waiver until June of next year for its members who were closed for almost 18 months.

The VFI also wants a commitment from Government that the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme will remain in place for the first half of next year. A reduction of 7.5% in excise duty along with an extension of the 9% hospitality VAT rate to 2025 are also included in the VFI budget submission.

VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben says: “Budget 2022 comes just days before all remaining restrictions on trading are planned to be removed on 22nd October, but while we welcome the return to normal trading conditions for our members, this is far from the end of the crisis. Publicans are faced with a situation where inbound tourism numbers are expected to be severely depressed throughout 2022, while consumer confidence in relation to visiting hospitality venues remains tentative.

“Our members need time to rebuild their businesses, which is why the commercial rates waiver is such a crucial support. It needs to remain in place until June of next year, which would give publicans almost a full year of indoor trading to attempt getting turnover back to 2019 levels.

“The Employment Wage Support Scheme (EWSS) is the difference between opening and closing for many pubs across Ireland. It provides businesses with a vital opportunity to employ staff while turnover is low, so continuing the EWSS until June 22 would further enhance members’ opportunity to work towards a return to normality.”

The VFI is also calling for an extension of the 9% hospitality VAT rate to at least 2025. Padraig Cribben says: “The 9% VAT rate provides stability for pubs serving food, especially in the context of the slow return of the inbound tourist market.

“The 13.5% rate which operated until last autumn is one of the highest in the EU – so 9% is the appropriate rate. Any increase in Ireland’s VAT rate would put us at a serious competitive disadvantage.

“We’re calling for a reduction of 7.5% in the rate of excise, which is the second highest in Europe. Lowering excise would give our members an opportunity to invest in their businesses and aid recovery in the sector.

“The measures we are seeking will create an environment where the pub sector can rebound after suffering the worst financial impact of the crisis. There are 7,000 licensed venues in the country who are facing an uncertain 2022 so implementing the measures outlined will help bring clarity, certainty and support to a sector badly in need of reassurance,” concludes Mr Cribben.