Trade minister appeals for retail bosses to share data on how hated ‘tourist tax’ is damaging Britain’s economy as campaigners step up calls for return to tax-free shopping
- Nigel Huddleston said the Treasury would consider retaining the levy
A trade minister has appealed to hospitality and retail bosses to share data with the Government on how the hated ‘tourist tax’ is damaging Britain’s economy.
In a significant step for the campaign to bri ng back tax-free shopping, Nigel Huddleston said the Treasury would consider whether to retain the levy ahead of the Autumn Statement.
He made the comments in response to the Daily Mail’s bid to ‘Scrap the Tourist Tax’, which has won the backing of 200 business chiefs and dozens of cross-party MPs and peers.
Campaigners say bringing back tax-free shopping for tourists could bring in hundreds of millions of pounds a year and support jobs in a range of sectors across the country.
Mr Huddleston said the Government was ‘open to engagement’ with businesses demanding the policy be re-examined.
Trade minister Nigel Huddleston has appealed to hospitality and retail bosses to share data with the Government on how the hated ‘tourist tax’ is damaging Britain’s economy
‘If they have got information and data to bring into us then we’re always open to that, particularly at the Department for Business and Trade,’ he told LBC radio yesterday.
The minister said he did not know whether the tax was ‘under review’, but said: ‘Tax policy is always looked at in the advance of fiscal events, the next one being later on this year.’
His comments were last night hailed as ‘real progress’ by hotelier Sir Rocco Forte, who organised the letter to the Chancellor signed by 200 business chiefs.
Mr Huddleston acknowledged the tax may ‘influence’ tourists in deciding where to travel – but said there were ‘many reasons why people come to the UK’.
‘It’s not just about the amount of tax that people pay, but it can influence people and we always keep an eye on what other countries are doing as well to make sure that we are globally competitive. We always keep these things under review,’ he added.
Mr Huddleston warned scrapping the tax would lead to ‘some loss of revenue which we need to pay for our essential services’.
He said: ‘So it’s all a matter of balance and making sure that we balance out what comes in versus what the dynamic impacts may be of changing a policy like this. The Treasury will always look at this. I engage with the hospitality industry as well, as do many colleagues.
He made the comments in response to the Daily Mail’s bid to ‘Scrap the Tourist Tax’, which has won the backing of 200 business chiefs and dozens of cross-party MPs and peers
‘The appeal is please give us the data and the information and then that will help inform our decision-making.’
Responding to his comments, Sir Rocco said: ‘This looks like real progress in the campaign to restore tax-free shopping.
‘For the first time, we have a minister asking for evidence from business on the impact and saying the decision will be reviewed ahead of the autumn statement.
‘It is significant that it is a minister from the trade department who seems open to argument rather than the Treasury, since it is the Treasury’s short-sighted economic modelling that led to the tourist tax in the first place.
‘We are… confident that any serious analysis of the economic impact will show that the UK is missing out on billions of pounds in lost spending in shops, hotels, theatres, restaurants, pubs, taxis and tourist attractions.
‘The tourist tax is a spectacular own goal for UK Plc and it must be reversed. It is also not acceptable that we should have to wait until the autumn statement for action, by which time we will have lost a whole season of potential business. The Government should act sooner.’