A new group has joined pensioners and pasty enthusiasts in venting its anger at George Osborne – and this one has muscle.
More than 19,000 bodybuilders have criticised the Chancellor for revealing in the Budget that 20 per cent VAT would be added to some sports nutrition products.
The move has been slammed as “bizarre” by the industry, as it comes in the year that London hosts the Olympics, but it is expected to raise £10 million for Treasury.
This comes as about 30,000 bodybuilders are set to converge on Birmingham this weekend for Bodypower 2012, one of the country’s biggest fitness expos.
Event spokesman Ollie Upton, marketing director of Bodypower, based near Kenilworth, said the move will undoubtedly hit manufacturers and customers hard.
Mr Upton said: “It’s very topical at the moment that the government has put VAT on sports supplements and there will be protest at the expo on Friday.
“The sports supplement industry is a rapidly growing industry. It’s still relatively young but the number of customers in the UK has grown quite a lot year on year.
“And with the economy being quite tight and consumers spending their money more wisely, to then have a 20 per cent increase on top of what they are buying is going to have an impact.
“We’ll have 70 specialist sports nutrition companies at the expo and they are all in agreement that VAT should not be added and obviously our visitors are of the same opinion.
“Some customers will just buy one supplement that costs £40-50 a month but others will buy multiples, like pre and post workouts as well as meal supplements, so if you add VAT on it makes it an expensive hobby and that will then put some people off.
“It’s certainly a challenging time So traders will be voicing their opposition and we are backing them because what better place to have a protest than at the UK’s biggest fitness exhibition?”
Sports nutrition supplements are popular with bodybuilders, rugby players and top sports stars and can cost up to £50 a pack, so the VAT rise could add as much as £10 on top of that, unless, of course, manufacturers opt to swallow the hike.
The UK Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance has penned a letter to the Chancellor, backed by 19,000 signatures, calling for re-think and for an urgent high level meeting to discuss the proposed move. And traders at Birmingham’s Bodypower 2012 will be using the platform of the UK’s biggest fitness expo to voice their united objections in a protest on May 18.
Mr Upton said the VAT move also poses a potential double blow. For many people who have lost jobs or are struggling with the additional squeeze on their incomes are looking to personal training as their financial salvation.
He added: “Following the downturn in the economy and because people are seeking extra money, personal training is being seen as an easy way of generating a second income because it can fit around an existing job.
“As a result there has been an increase in people signing up to courses to be personal trainers. Premier Training, who will be at the show and has many personal trainers on its books, including Coventry’s Kirk Miller, has noticed an increase in the number of trainers.
“We also have about 30 in the show who will be giving people advice and information on courses which are running across the country, not just in London.”
Bodypower 2012 has extended its run from two days last year to three this year, and has also doubled from two to four halls at the NEC, where it has been running annually since its inaugural event four years ago.
Mr Upton said he was expecting 30,000 people through the doors over the three days. But the show is not just for those wanting to keep their bodies on top form. Mr Upton said it was also suited to those wanting to become healthier and fitter in general.
He added: “We are constantly hearing about obesity and fat Britain and the need to do something about it and more people are getting to a point where they want to do something about it.
“The show is not just for people who are at the peak of fitness and want to maintain it it’s also for people who want to get fit and healthy and want to know how to go about that the best way.”