The Conservative MP for Bournemouth West has backed a proposal to slash VAT for tourism businesses.
Conor Burns joins the ranks of 86 other MPs in a campaign to lower the UK’s rate from 20% to 5%, putting it in line with other European countries. This change could bring a £15M economic boost and 350 new jobs to Bournemouth, according to projections determined by pressure group Cut Tourism VAT.
Burns expressed his support on October 28, during a committee meeting with representatives of the tourism industry. “Our second largest employer is tourism and hospitality,” he said. “I back the campaign to cut VAT.”
Bournemouth Borough Cabinet Member for Tourism, Leisure & Culture Lawrence Williams met last weekend with local MPs to discuss the scheme: “Anything that helps tourism is a good thing, and we’re definitely looking into it,” he said.
The campaign manager for Cut Tourism VAT Vernon Hunte said that not having a reduced rate for tourism is a missed opportunity for the whole UK economy: “Treasury’s own economic advisers said it’s the best way to grow GDP. According to our projections, it could generate £4 billion and create 80,000 jobs in three years.
“With a rainbow coalition in Parliament and strong grass-roots support, especially in the South-West, our focus is now on the Autumn Statement representation, where we will put forward our findings,” Hunte said.
Burns is also looking forward to the annual statement, which will be presented to Parliament on 3 December: “No Chancellor of any side would turn down an extra £4 billion in revenue and 80,000 new jobs for absence of political will.
“To quote somebody else, surely it would be reckless, perverse and bizarre for a Chancellor who wants to encourage growth to turn down a recommendation from one of his own leading advisers on how to encourage growth?”
But James Eels, Chairman of Bournemouth Tourism Management Board, argued that the knock-on effect on the rest of the economy isn’t clear. “It could be beneficial to Bournemouth’s tourism, but it could create a disparity, with income moving to that industry and away from others,” he said. “And honestly I don’t think it stands a chance of being approved. Unless we’re speaking of a token cut, which wouldn’t have much of an impact.”