Wetherspoons reduces the price of food and drink in all pubs today only

Wetherspoons is slashing the price of its food and drink for today only.

The pub chain has made the reductions in protest against the government’s hospitality tax changes.

Pubs such as Wetherspoons pay 20% VAT, but are still paying 5% thanks to government cuts to help the sector get through the pandemic, The Mirror reports.

That 5% rate will rise to 12.5% at the end of this month, then eventually go back to 20% by 2022.

But Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin wants the tax rate to be maintained at 5% to keep pubs afloat, and is cutting prices in his pubs today to highlight this.

Martin said pubs are suffering with competition from supermarkets selling booze.

Supermarkets don’t pay VAT on food, which helps them sell alcohol at cut-price rates.

Martin said: “Taxes should be fair and equitable. However, it is unfair that supermarkets pay zero VAT on food, but pubs and restaurants, in normal circumstances, pay 20%.

“Pubs have been under fantastic pressure for decades, owing to the tax disadvantages which they have with supermarkets.”

However, it’s bad news for Wetherspoons lovers north of the border.

Different licensing laws in Scotland mean pubs in the country won’t be cutting prices today.

Wetherspoons in airports and the Republic of Ireland will also not be bringing in the temporary 7.5% cut.

Martin warned that when VAT goes up to 12.5% the pub chain will have to hike the price of its meals by 50p on average.

Earlier in the month Martin came under fire after beer shortages at the pub chain.

One Wetherspoons branch put up a sign saying it had run out of Bud Light, Carling and Coors due to a shortage of delivery drivers and strike action.

At the time, a Wetherspoons spokesperson told The Mirror: “We are experiencing some supply problems with both Carling and Coors, which means that some pubs do not have the products available.

“We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused. We know that the brewers are trying to resolve the issue.”

Tim Martin is a hard Brexiteer who championed Britain leaving the single market before the 2016 vote.

His pubs even distributed pro-Brexit leaflets in the run-up to the referendum.

Wetherspoons is just one of a range of firms suffering shortages, which are being caused by a mixture of coronavirus delays and post-Brexit rules on trade.

Many European and overseas workers returned home after Brexit, and then before the pandemic, leaving many sectors struggling to recruit enough staff.

This was worsened by many workers having to self-isolate after getting ‘pinged’ by the government’s covid app.

Back in June Martin called for more EU workers to be allowed into the UK – as bars and restaurants are short of staff.

He claimed that the UK’s low birth rate could be a cause of a labour shortage, with industry bosses saying they have been forced to open at reduced hours.