Last week’s Budget has divided the travel industry, with ongoing criticism of Air Passenger Duty balanced against welcome proposals in business rate reduction and transport infrastructure.
Abta said it was “disappointed that the chancellor had raised band B APD by inflation, “rather than to address the uncompetitive level of APD overall”. The association said there was a need to review the level at which the tax was set because the Scottish government was committed to a 50% APD cut. “We need urgent action from the Treasury to bring APD down across the whole of the country to ensure a competitive, fair rate,” it said.
Abta also welcomed the go-ahead for Crossrail 2 and HS3, as did James Stamp, head of transport at accountants KPMG. Stamp, however, said this did not go far enough: “The prime minister might like to reflect on the chancellor’s call for long-term solutions to long-term problems, as he continues to prevaricate on the very real long-term problem of creating new airport capacity, which is vital in affirming our position in the global economy and the wider connectivity agenda.”
The reduction in business rates, which the chancellor claimed would take 600,000 small businesses out of paying rates altogether, was also welcomed by Abta, together with further reductions in corporation tax, and the freezing of fuel duty for a sixth consecutive year.
Another tax change was, however, slammed by The Tourism Alliance. It criticised an announcement that will see self-catering accommodation covered by the Additional Stamp Duty proposals covering second homes. This means that any investment in self-catering properties now incurs the increased purchase tax.
Tourism Alliance director Kurt Janson said this would have “a detrimental impact” on the industry. “If just 10% of self-catering operators are deterred from purchasing a property as a result of the additional duty, it will lower the revenue generated by the self-catering sector by £330 million per annum and cause the loss of over 6,000 jobs,’ he said. Janson said this was three times the income that would be created from the new tax.
The British Hospitality Association welcomed the abolition of the Carbon Reduction Commitment energy efficiency scheme, saying it was “very bureaucratic and cumbersome”, especially for franchisees.
The BHA added, however: “We were disappointed not to see a reduction in National Insurance and a delay in the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy which would have been helpful in reducing the total impact of the National Minimum Wage and the introduction of National Living Wage in April this year.