Asian restaurant sector backs VAT campaign: The Federation of Bangladeshi Caterers (FoBC) and the Asian Caterers Federation (ACF) have thrown there considerable weight behind the hospitality industry’s campaign to cut VAT on restaurant bills from 20% to 5%. The FoBC is the voice of the country’s circa 12,000 Bangladeshi restaurateurs and takeaway owners. The ACF represents a community of 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 over 8,000 south and south-east Asian establishments in the UK. The combined totals number some 35,000. A campaigning organisation, 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. In France the cut in VAT from 19.65% to 5.5% lead to the creation of 21,700 in its first year. In the UK the FoBC believes a similar cut would generate 320,000 jobs, reduce the Government’s benefits bill and boost overall tax receipts “Such a move would also restore confidence and improve viability of the sector, whilst boosting the wider economy,” added Khan. To promote the campaign, the FoBC and ACF will supply over 100,000 ‘Polling Cards’ to the county’s Indian, Bangladeshi and Asian restaurants to encourage customers to vote online in this year’s Asian Curry awards – run jointly by the two federations. A group of 40 large pub, restaurant and foodservice companies, members of the Vat Club Jacques Borel, are organising Tax Parity Day on Wednesday 25 September to show customers the benefits of lower VAT, with other smaller companies also signing up.