Hospitality not rushing into 'knee-jerk' price hikes as VAT back to 20pc

Pubs and eateries in Fakenham and Wells are doing all they can to prevent customers from paying the price after VAT returns.

Pubs and eateries in Fakenham and Wells are doing all they can to prevent customers from paying the price after VAT returns to pre-pandemic rates. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Neil Didsbury/Matthew Usher

Pubs and eateries are doing all they can to prevent customers from paying the price after VAT returns to pre-pandemic rates. 

Hospitality in Wells and Fakenham were already feeling the pinch as energy prices, fuel costs and the cost of living continue to soar. This has been added to after the government confirmed the return of the VAT to 20pc.
 
VAT is the tax paid when buying goods and services. The rate was lowered back in July 2020 as a way to help a number of industries, including hospitality, recover following the impact of the pandemic. 

On April 1, the rate was increased from 12.5pc, back to the standard of 20pc. 

Kevin Black, new manager of the Henry IV pub in Fakenham.

Kevin Black, new manager of the Henry IV pub in Fakenham. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

At the Henry V pub in Fakenham, Kevin Black, the general manager, said it will not be increasing its prices, but instead, reviewing it over the coming months.

“We do not want a knee-jerk reaction,  we will take stock and then have a look at the impact, and then we will assess the landscape in a month’s time,” he said.

“It is a hard time, just out of Covid and it is a lot of things all at once, but you just have to get on with it.

“We are looking at cutting costs where we can, so the impact on the customer is not as great. Such as turning things off and on, and doing all we can to save costs.”  

French's Fish & Chip Shop is celebrating 90 years of business in Wells - Owner Marcus French outside

French's Fish & Chip Shop is celebrating 90 years of business in Wells - Owner Marcus French outside his shop on Wells Quay. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

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At French’s Fish and Chips in Wells, owner Marcus French is offering a range of different menu options in an effort to have something for every price point. He said he understood why the government had reverted back to the 20pc rate.

“Why should they just help hospitality when there are people struggling with energy costs and not having food to eat?” he said.

“We are offering smaller portions of fish, so the price does not go up for our customers.

“It is a difficult time for hospitality, with the VAT going back and people do not have as much disposable income. But, there a lot of tourists come to Wells and we are luckier than most.” 

The landlord of The Crown in Fakenham, Alie Hannam.

The landlord of The Crown in Fakenham, Alie Hannam. - Credit: DENISE BRADLE

Alie Hannam, owner of The Crown in Fakenham, echoed this, saying the pub will do all it can to reduce the impact on her customers.

“We will try and absorb the cost and look into where we can save," she said.

"Everything is going up so we will have to monitor and see what we can do to avoid our punters paying the price.”