Vat on Takeaway Food and the Problem With Litter!

Posted on August 22, 2016

When I was in a restaurant the other week, I can’t remember where, Costa Packet or something of the like, I was asked if I would be eating my sandwich in or outside.

In some cases it seems to be that it is cheaper if you take your food away, which made me assume I was being charged for service and overheads calculated by the cost of clearing up, and wear and tear on cutlery and furniture and so on.

This is not the case, it actually comes down to VAT and food that is served at a temperature above or below the ambient room temperature and whether it eaten inside or outside the premises.

For instance, an apple and a sandwich from a fridge are subject to VAT if you sit inside the restaurant, but if you take them away with you, they are not. For those of you who do not run a VAT registered business, this is a fine example of why the HMRC are widely detested.


Cost less whilst creating a mess: Takeaway sandwiches

Whether VAT inspectors visit premises with thermometers or not, I do not know, but encouraging people to take their food and rubbish away with them could well be why Britain is full of nearly as much litter as it is cretins. Place cretins and takeaway discount together and you have the perfect storm for beautiful countryside strewn with food wrappers.

In Bill Bryson’s latest book ‘The Road to Little Dribbling’ he claims that the non-vatable takeaway amount spent by Britons each year is £12 billion, meaning that the VAT man is missing out on £1.2 billion that could be spent on bins and council workers who could be employed to clear rubbish and carry a license to punch litter offenders repeatedly in the face.

As a bonus, any leftover cash could be spent on the odd new school or hospital, so there would be no real losers because if cretins, as a consequence of having no VAT discount, chose to stay in the restaurant, the litter problem in the UK would decline accordingly.

If you have ever read one of Bill Bryson’s books, you will find that they are littered (what a great pun) with little snippets of information like I have quoted above and are also rather funny. His latest effort does show him as becoming a bit of a cantankerous old bastard and some of his exchanges with staff in public services and restaurants seem almost too absurd to be true.

However, Bryson always carries the ability to make one snort with laughter completely out of the blue, with the following paragraph being worth the cover price of the book alone.

“Across the way, on the facing platform, a small group of trainspotters stood with clipboards and notebooks. They all looked like the sort of people who had never had sex with anything they couldn’t put in a cupboard afterwards. I tried to imagine what the rest of their lives was like if this was the fun part, but I couldn’t.”

Without sounding like Bill Bryson’s agent, ‘The Road to Little Dribbling’ is a cracking holiday read.

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