Irish restaurant leaders call for measures to protect businesses from detrimental Brexit effects

The sector employs 171,700 people and contributes €2billion to the economy each year.

Brexit represents the most dangerous threat to the Irish restaurant industry, it was warned yesterday.

Industry leaders are calling for the 9% hospitality VAT to be retained until 2022 amid the uncertainty.

Identifying Britain’s EU withdrawal as the most potent danger facing the industry, Restaurants Association of Ireland chief Adrian Cummins said: “It is our most immediate threat in 2018 and will follow into next year.

“We must retain measures such as the 9% VAT rate to allow businesses to remain competitive while we continue to measure the potential damage of Brexit.

“When the economy went into decline, restaurants endured falling numbers of diners, rising prices and great financial uncertainty, with many having to close.

“Money generated by this reduced VAT rate, however, has kick-started fortunes. Employment in the restaurant and tourism sector increased by approximately 54,400 direct jobs with an additional 25,024 indirect jobs which gives a total increase of 79,424. This will continue if VAT at 9% remains.

“Restaurateurs are entrepreneurs. When a restaurant opens or expands, they will create jobs and generate business.

“Restaurants all over Ireland are relying on the VAT to remain at 9% for the survival of their business.”

The rate among many of Ireland’s EU counterparts is 10% or lower and Mr Cummins warned it is critical the reduced VAT is kept in place to maintain a competitive edge on rivals.

The sector employs 171,700 people and contributes €2billion to the economy each year.

Yesterday the RAI launched its Pre-Budget Submission, which included a plan which it believes will sustain jobs, maintain competitiveness and deliver certainty for the sector.

The RAI said restaurants will suffer post-Brexit if UK visitors continue to decline due to sterling weakness.

Businesses in the border counties are particularly vulnerable as less people will come from the North and customers from the South will have a financial incentive to go North.

If a hard Brexit transpires, indigenous Irish exporters will come under significant pressure with farming and agri-food businesses most likely hit.

The RAI is also calling for a number of other key points in its pre-budget plans including for the excise duty to be reduced by 15%, for wage increases to be minimised and for policies to tackle the chronic chef shortage in Ireland to be introduced.

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