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Government: 'We recognise it's a very challenging time for hospitality'

But businesses told there are no plans to change VAT

Government has pledged to support hospitality businesses on the Isle of Man saying it recognises that it’s a ‘very challenging time’.

But there are no plans to change the VAT agreement which many believe would alleviate some of the burden.

The Isle of Man Government says it's committed to continue to comply with conditions set out in the Customs and Excise (Amendment Agreement 2018) in terms of the administration of VAT here.

VAT

Earlier this week the boss of Victory Café, on the Mountain Road, told Manx Radio she would like to see some form of rebate system introduced to reduce the burden.

It came after she paid £15,000 in VAT over the winter period – you can find out more HERE.

However, in response, Enterprise Minister Tim Johnston said that wouldn’t be possible:

Manx Menu

Yesterday (10 April) the Department for Enterprise hosted the awards ceremony for the first ‘Manx Menu’ contest.

It was designed to celebrate those working in the hospitality sector with awards handed out in nine categories; you can find out more HERE.

But the ceremony comes in a week where some hospitality businesses have spoken out about the pressure they’re under not to – as the Victory Cafe owner put it – ‘go under’.

Many have been critical of government and have called on it to do more to help the industry it is so keen to celebrate.

One café in Port Erin stated: “Time for those that should be able to make a difference to do so before we have no hospitality sector left.”

Help

So, aside from the ‘Manx Menu’ competition what is government doing to help?

In response to the criticism the Department for Enterprise told Manx Radio:

Whilst the Department for Enterprise is not able to comment on individual businesses, we recognise many businesses are facing increasing financial pressures, which compounded with a typically quieter season for hospitality over the winter, has meant that this is a challenging period for many hospitality establishments.

“Through the Business Agency the Department for Enterprise is progressing a number of initiatives and projects which aim to support the hospitality sector and address key barriers for growth, including working with the Visit Agency to stimulate demand for the hospitality and the wider local economy and bringing forward the Local Economy Strategy.

“Business Isle of Man continues to be available to support businesses operating in the hospitality sector, and would encourage any business experiencing operational difficulties to contact them (contact-business@gov.im).

“Through our enterprise support division the department also offers a free of charge independent business advisory services for any business which is seeking support.”

MLC Diane Kelsey is the political representative for Business Isle of Man:

Economic Strategy

The Isle of Man Government as a whole says it is continuing to prioritise its long-term Economic Strategy, sustaining key sectors and supporting new growth.

It wants to have filled 1,800 new jobs by 2026.

It adds: Highlighted as a key feature of the Island Plan a focus is being placed on increasing the number of economically active new residents who can provide needed skills and investment into the Island.

“The Department for Enterprise is also currently working on the Local Economy Strategy, which will involve identifying and exploring solutions to what businesses may perceive as being barriers to growth.”

Recruitment

It’s clear recruitment and retention of staff is one of the areas the hospitality industry, in particular, is struggling with.

The Boatyard restaurant, in Peel, picked up the ‘Overall Manx Menu’ award.

Owner Robin Mowat and General Manager Ash Bolton told Manx Radio the issue is one they are also contending with:

Sue Bridge is the owner of the Dovecote Tearoom in Kirk Michael – she picked up the ‘Manx Menu Best Customer Service’ award.

But she says she’s been forced to reduce her hours because staff are in such short supply:

Support

The winners of the Manx Menu awards will receive £1,000 in marketing support to help promote their businesses; The Boatyard will receive £1,500.

And the enterprise minister says the support for the industry will continue:

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