Masterchef star Dean Banks cuts food bills and bans Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt from his restaurants

The Scottish chef to offer 'VAT-free Fridays' that allows diners to claim 20% off their food bill, in VAT protest.

Updated on • Written By Tara Spink

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Masterchef star Dean Banks cuts food bills and bans Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt from his restaurants

Scottish chef Dean Banks is offering diners 20% off their food bill, and has banned Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt from his restaurants in Scotland, to draw attention to 'brutal' hospitality VAT rates.

The announcement comes after the UK government failed to reduce the 20% rate of VAT payable by hospitality businesses, despite pressure from the industry for help during the current financial crisis.


The MasterChef Professionals finalist has restaurants across Scotland, including Dean Banks at the Pompadour in Edinburgh, Haar in St Andrews, and his newest addition Dulse in Edinburgh.

As well as banning the Prime Minister and Chancellor, Banks has encouraged other business owners to do the same. Posting on social media, he said: ‘Any independently owned site in the UK has the right to ban anyone. Join me in Barring both of these terrible people.’

Speaking of Sunak and Hunt, Dean Banks said: 'I don’t want these guys in my restaurants – they have shown absolute disdain for our industry and will cost jobs and livelihoods'. 

He stated that the decision has nothing to do with party politics, but was based on his belief that the pair do not value what chefs do, so those two can ‘eat elsewhere’.

In a bid to emphasise the toll a 20% VAT rate takes on the hospitality industry, Banks will be offering one month of ‘VAT-free Fridays’ that will see diners benefit from 20% off their food bill.

Explaining the situation, Banks said, ‘Most businesses pay VAT on the goods they buy, and charge VAT on the goods they sell. They can claim back the VAT they pay on bought goods so it is sort of cancelled out.’

‘For us, we pay 20% to HMRC on the meals we sell, but we don’t pay it on the ingredients we buy in so we can’t claim it back. It’s just 20% of our income every three months.’

‘It’s brutal. There are times you see that bill and wonder if you can go on, so I understand why colleagues are quitting the trade. I’m not at that stage but I get it.’

Looking to keep busy until the next MasterChef? Check out our article on Great British Menu season 19 for all the latest updates. 

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