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Catering subsidy (2018)


A breakdown of the subsidies that are provided for catering facilities in the House of Commons.



The House accepts that there is a great deal of public interest in the prices of food and drink sold from venues across the parliamentary estate and we are frequently asked about the ‘catering subsidy’. However, catering services for the House of Commons are provided by an in-house team who do not provide a subsidised service in the commercial sense of the word. Some venues make a profit, referred to as contribution because it contributes to reducing overall costs. In other venues, the cost of providing the service does exceed the income received in sales due to the irregular hours and unpredictability of parliamentary business. The contribution or cost of each venue is calculated by subtracting the food and operational costs from the catering sales. Rather than a subsidy, the House monitors the contribution or cost of each catering venue, which include cafeterias, dining rooms, restaurants and bars. Prices of food and drink are regularly benchmarked against appropriate external comparators.

It is also important to note that the customers who use the on-site catering venues do include some of the 650 elected Members of Parliament. However, they also include around 14,500 other pass-holders (MPs’ staff, House staff, civil servants, contractors, Peers, members of the Press Gallery, etc.) as well as a large number of non-pass holding visitors to Parliament.

On this understanding, information relating to the cost or contribution of the catering service is held by the House of Commons.

Please note that 2017/18 was a snap election year which resulted in lower sales.