Around 100 owners and operators of hospitality businesses on the island have called for immediate action from the government to help save the industry.

Following a meeting on Thursday evening, the Licensed Victualler’s Association (LVA) has issued a strongly worded statement calling for changes to minimum wage legislation, VAT and taxes.

It comes following Enterprise Minister Tim Johnston telling Manx Radio that other options need to be looked at to support the industry as a whole, and that it’s not appropriate for government to provide individual support to those struggling in the hospitality sector.

In response to this, the LVA said its members are ‘very concerned with Mr Johnston’s lack of respect for not awaiting our announcement before going on the offensive against Manx Business owners’.

In the more than 700 word statement, issued on Friday, the LVA said: ‘Our Association and allied traders refuse to remain passive observers as our friends and families struggle or close their businesses while the Isle of Man government mismanages the funds we and other small Manx businesses contribute to our economy.

‘We urge the Chief Minister, Treasury Minister, Enterprise Minister, and top Civil Servants in the island’s Financial Departments to listen attentively. Our businesses are suffering, alongside our families and customers. It’s time for the government to address our island’s issues.

‘It’s imperative that the government heed the expertise of those within the industry. Instead of implementing ineffective schemes with exorbitant costs, they must address our genuine needs and those of our workforce.’

It said that VAT is ‘crippling businesses’, and it ‘rejects’ the notion that the government can’t change the system to those in Jersey and Guernsey.

The island’s VAT situation is vastly different to that of the Channel Islands, with the Isle of Man’s arrangement contributing a significant sum to the island’s annual budget.

The statement also accuses the government of exploiting minimum wage legislation and ‘disregarding the plight of lower-paid individuals’.

It adds: ‘They have disproportionately burdened our lower-paid workers, it is unacceptable that someone earning the proposed Minimum Wage of £11.45 per hour would be taxed at the new highest rate of 22%.

‘We demand immediate adjustments to tax thresholds, aligning them with the Living Wage to ensure those earning at this level remain within the 10% Tax band.

‘National Insurance stands as a punitive tax on employment, stifling both employers and employees. Threshold adjustments are overdue, people are not being rewarded for taking on more work, the burden of low NI and Tax allowances is a major cause of the staffing problems the Isle of Man faces.

‘Aligning minimum wage age categories with those in the UK would alleviate employment and training issues, it is difficult to take the risk to recruit, train and develop younger staff, with the current system. Good employees will earn better wages through their own endeavours.’

Another issue the LVA noted was energy costs, saying they ‘remain a significant obstacle’.

However the statement did say that despite the difficulties, the industry will fight back. It said: ‘Despite the challenges, our industry comprises resilient entrepreneurs deeply invested in serving our island.

‘We have long been significant contributors to government revenue, often remaining silent.

‘However, we refuse to tolerate the government's disregard for the public purse and our businesses, staff, and families while they mismanage funds and disregard calls for change from Manx families.’

In a response, a government spokesperson said: ‘The government understands that parts of the hospitality sector are experiencing a challenging period.

‘We thank members of the Licenced Victuallers Association for bringing forward concerns, and the Treasury Minister and Enterprise Minister would welcome the opportunity to meet with representatives from the sector to ensure there is an open dialogue and a clear understanding, and importantly listen to concerns.

‘Government is committed to supporting the hospitality sector, recognising the important contribution it makes to our wider economy.

‘However, any solutions considered need to be appropriate and take account of other demands on the public finances and pressures being felt across our community as a whole.'