The Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) has launched a campaign to highlight the challenges that the independent hospitality sector is facing.

The Empower Independents campaign has been launched in response to the increasing operational pressures on businesses. Following calls for feedback from its members, key partners and other associations, NCASS has issued a warning to the government that the independent hospitality sector which includes thousands of event businesses, shows no real signs of immediate recovery or even stability in the short term.

NCASS has called for tax reforms for micro-businesses including reform on the VAT rate for the industry, reform on hot food VAT and reform on the VAT threshold.

NCASS said the current VAT rules, the energy crisis and food inflation are resulting in many businesses struggling to stay afloat. NCASS members from across the country have reported significant losses, stating that the combination of challenges is putting the question of whether to continue with their businesses to the fore.

One member said, “VAT is strangling growth within our business. With the huge rise in business costs, we cannot now charge what we should be to make any sort of profit. The 20% VAT element that customers don’t really take into account makes our pricing look high. This has stopped us from investing in growth as we do not have the funds available. We are essentially absorbing increasing costs as high prices will drive away customers.”

NCASS managing director Nick Summers said, “Action must be taken swiftly to help keep the independent hospitality sector afloat before it becomes too late for many.”

NCASS said it is continuously feeding back to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Minister for Hospitality and the Shadow Cabinet for support and solutions.