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Tourism Chief speaks out against budgets "caravan tax"
Budget proposals to hike VAT on “static holiday caravan” sales, from between two and three per cent to 20 per cent, could harm the local economy by putting off buyers and depriving the region of income from new and regular visitors making a stake in the area.
Family-owned caravan park company Haulfryn is campaigning against the changes due in October, and its chief executive, Rod Tucker, has added his voice to the opposition.
He has written to 11 of the MPs around the country who have parks in their constituencies, including Welsh MPs Elfyn Llwyd, Hywel Williams, Albert Owen and David Jones; south-west MPs Dan Rogerson, Mel Stride, Sarah Wollaston and Andrew George; and south-east MPs Paul Beresford, Gregory Barker and Amber Rudd.
Haulfryn has over 4000 holiday caravans which it rents and sells at sites across north Wales. The south east and south west.
In his letter, Mr Tucker highlighted the 3,600-plus owners of static holiday caravans at Haulfryn’s 20 parks around the country which employ about 360 full-time staff, and even more during the summer.
The parks help bring in a combined 50,000 additional visitors to their areas each year– many of whom stay in caravans rented out by their owners to help cover running costs.
He warned the VAT hike would add between £6,000 and £30,000 to the average sale price of its holiday homes, and sales made up 60 per cent of its £54 million turnover.
He wrote: “We are very concerned that if this proposal is implemented it will have extremely serious implications for our business and tourism in general in the local rural economy, and represents a very real threat not only to our business but to also many other local businesses and the people they employ.
“Business over the last four years has been very tough but generally the holiday parks business has fared better than most during the recession and we have been very successful in encouraging people to holiday in this country and not overseas, thus bringing more revenue to Great Britain.
“Clearly a downturn in our business will have significant effect on the local economy, affecting other businesses such as pubs, restaurants, shops, petrol stations and attractions, but also to the contractors who work on our parks and clearly will have a knock on effect in job losses in these areas as well.
“Static holiday caravans have helped the housing stock in local areas by preserving housing for locals and attracting holiday home ownership to caravan parks.”
The National Caravan Council (NCC) trade body has warned that even the government’s projected 30 per cent reduction in demand was a significant underestimate, and was too optimistic on the amount it would raise for the Treasury.
The campaign received a boost last week when 262 MPs voted against the change, including 17 Conservatives. Although it failed to overturn the plans, the result helped to persuade the government to extend the consultation deadline on the change until May 18th.
Graham Stewart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, is coordinating opposition in the House of Commons and is due to meet the Chancellor of the Exchequer for talks. The industry is preparing a report to show the full impact of the VAT hike.
Mr Tucker commented: “This is a bad idea from the government which would deter visitors from investing in holiday homes, with the knock-on effect of losing jobs from the tourist industry that many family wage-earners around here depend on.
“North Wales is a beautiful place for people to stay and we want to be encouraging potential guests to take advantage of the attractions it has to offer – and certainly not ramping up the costs and forcing them to abandon their holiday hopes. We all lose out then.
“The beauty of caravan holiday homes is that they offer luxury vacations at a moment’s notice at affordable prices, so it is vital that the government listens to those at the sharp end and thinks again about this potentially destructive policy – for the sake of locals and visitors.”
The NCC is also urging owner and the public to add their name to its online petition to the government Drop the VAT hike on the sale of static caravans
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