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Stir it up magazine May 2014

EDUCATION MAY 2014 19 A college has won a long-running battle with the HMRC over its dining facilities – and a £55,000 tax rebate. >> Their in-house restaurant proved it runs a non-profi t organisation and is therefore not liable to pay VAT. Renowned for its restaurant quality food, MJ’s training restaurant at Brockenhurst College, Hampshire, is run by catering students and charges heavily discounted prices. The college has waged a long-running battle with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and has reclaimed almost four years of VAT it had wrongly paid on meals served at MJ’s. MJ’s offers local groups and individuals the chance to enjoy a three-course meal for as little as £15, the objective being to provide students with practical experience. The college claimed that the restaurant was “tantamount to a classroom” and that the students were the true benefi ciaries of the venue. Head of the department John MacArther says: “Having a fully-operational restaurant in which students train on a regular basis gives them outstanding levels of industry experience. As well as developing their culinary and food service skills, they also develop a knowledge of other factors paramount to working in the sector, such as customer care and the business issues related to managing a restaurant − it is an invaluable facility in preparing them for their onward careers.” Principal Di Roberts adds: “Continuing to develop and enhance the provision of our extremely popular Catering and Hospitality courses will be very much supported by additional funds now available further to this week’s confi rmation from HM Revenue & Customs.” HMRC lawyers argued that diners benefi tted from the service, which meant that VAT was chargeable even on the rock bottom prices they paid. However, Upper Tribunal judge Roger Berner ruled that the restaurant aimed to meet the educational needs of the students and was therefore VAT-exempt. MJ’s is named after Michael J Snell, who was principal of the college from 1989 to 2006. Free fast food cutting college numbers >> Free fast food offers for students is tempting them away from college cafés and healthy eating, a study has found. NUS cards entitle youngsters to everything from a free MacDonalds meal to more than half price pizzas at all the major takeaway chains. A study of 2,000 students at Reigate College in Surrey showedmany opted out of the restaurant offering a large selection of healthy meals including butternut squash risotto and a fully stocked fruit and salad bar. Writing in their college magazine, one student said: “The abundance of empty boxes of fried chicken, pizza crusts, sweet wrappers and cans of fifi zzy drink left behind after the lunchtime rush paint a picture that counteracts the college’s efforts to encourage a healthy style of life. The reality is, when faced with the decision between a serving of fried chicken and chips and butternut squash risotto, the likelihood of a hungry teenager choosing the latter option is unsurprisingly low.” Out of 20 college students who were asked about their weekly eating habits, half admitted to buying fried chicken or pizza twice a week ormore. The survey of 2,000 UK adults looked into the nation’s eating habits and how age affects the amount of takeaways we consume. Another study by Just Eat showed students are spending up to £3,000 a year on takeaways with a third moremen ordering fast food than women. How do you wage war on the major takeaway chains? Have you noticed a declining number of diners in your college restaurant? Email editor@ stiritupmagazine.co.uk “TAKE VAT!” Students win HMRC war “Having a restaurant in which students train on a regular basis gives them outstanding levels of industry experience.” ...the likelihood of a hungry teenager choosing a healthy option is unsurprisingly low...


Stir it up magazine May 2014
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