MP continues to press over VAT issue

Angus MP Mike Weir took part in a debate at Westminster calling for a cut in VAT to give a boost to businesses in the Tourist industry, citing the benefits that have been seen in Ireland by a similar move.

Mr Weir joined MPs from all parties in pressing the UK government to look at the evidence of the impact that such a move had the number of jobs that could be created in Angus and other rural areas.

He said: “I have been pushing this for a decade, the first question I asked on it related specifically to golf tourism back in 2004, at which time I represented Carnoustie, although sadly boundary changes mean that is no longer the case. I didn’t get any further with the then Chancellor than I have with the current one but I continue to press the case.”

He also noted that the official labour market statistics showed that a higher percentage of the workforce in Angus work in tourist related jobs than either the Scottish or UK average.

He continued: “This is not surprising given the wonderful mountains, glens and coastal areas of Angus, but shows the vital importance of tourism to our area.

“Twenty-four of the current 28 members of the EU charge lower rates of VAT on accommodation than the UK – France and Spain are at 10 per cent, half of the UK whilst Belgium is only six per cent and Ireland nine per cent.

“According to the VisitBritain website ratings of holidays in Britain were below almost every major European destination for both value and expense among both long and short haul visitors. It was also the only destination which had a negative balance in terms of expense compared to expectations.”

Mr Weir noted that the cut in rate in Ireland had given the economy a major boost.

He added: “The Republic of Ireland’s 95 rate on all tourist related business, against its standard rate of 24 per cent, is calculated to have given a boost of 40 million euros to the economy and created thousands of new jobs. In his budget speech the Irish Finance Minister put the figure at 15,000 although other research puts it as high as 35,000.”

“Research has shown that in the UK a cut in Vat on visitor attractions and accommodation could create 123,000 jobs and contribute a surplus to the Treasury of £3.9 billion over 10 years, with added spending and growth in tourism and the wider economy producing GDP gains of up to £4 billion a year.”