Southport Pleasureland boss says VAT cut ‘doesn’t go far enough’
The chancellor Rishi Sunak announced this week that VAT would be cut from 20% to 5% on hospitality and tourism. The move is designed to get Britain spending money on a sector that has been in deep freeze throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
And while Norman Wallis, whose Southport Pleasureland park opened yesterday, is supportive of the move, he believes it does not ‘go far enough’. The VAT cut will only last until March and Wallis believes it should continue into 2022:
‘For businesses like mine this is too little too late. We, and others like us, have already lost half the year. We normally open at Easter, then weekends and school holidays, finishing the season in November. The suspension is until March – most of that we can’t take advantage of because, yet again we will be out of season.’
Wallis also drew attention to the struggles his industry faces with VAT more generally. For Southport Pleasureland and other amusement parks, prices are always in simple, round numbers. A ride or other attraction will cost exactly £1, £2, £3 or £4. This is stitched into the fabric of the amusements sector and, argues Wallis, it prevents him from passing the cost of VAT onto his customers. Rather than making a ride £1.20 or £4.80, as a retail company may do, he simply has to cover the cost himself.
Wallis and his peers have lobbied the government for years over the issue, so far to no avail:
‘Our hope is that the Government will listen, understand and go further to provide help to businesses like mine that have fallen through the cracks as far as financial help goes. Businesses should pay taxes, we have no issue with that, but when the tax singles out an industry to put it at a significant disadvantage, then offers hot air and no real help, this needs to be looked at.
‘The Government may have caught on to the fact that there is an issue to be addressed, but it hasn’t really listened; this isn’t particularly helpful. Ministers must begin speaking to the businesses and not just academics with no real life experience.’