The South West’s economy needs the Chancellor’ forthcoming Budget to announce a VAT reduction for the tourism sector, a scrapping of Stamp Duty on home-sales, an abolition of business rates on empty properties, and a radical review of public sector pensions and MPs’ expenses.
These are among the findings of Bishop Fleming, the independent accountancy firm with the widest spread of offices throughout the South West.
According to Matthew Lee, managing partner at Bishop Fleming: “This region’s vital tourism sector should get the 5% VAT rate for hospitality businesses, already enjoyed by other European countries.
“At a time when pundits are predicting that most UK households are considering spending their holiday in this country, the South West’s tourism businesses need that VAT reduction to compete on an equal basis”, said Lee.
While the south west has Britain’s biggest housing crisis, with the biggest affordability-gap between average earnings and average house prices – and the biggest gap between demand and availability of affordable home – the Chancellor should scrap stamp duty, to help boost home-sales to key workers and first-time-buyers in this region, says Bishop Fleming.
Bishop Fleming is also calling for the abolition of final-salary pensions for public sector employees, a 10% reduction in public sector employees, and a formula to submit MPs to the same tax rules on expenses as the self-employed.
“At a time of deep recession, it is difficult to justify the guaranteed pensions for the growing number of public sector employees and the generous allowances for MPs”, said Lee.
Meanwhile, the Chancellor is challenged to deliver Gordon Brown’s promised “bonfire of red tape”.
“We need to see a reduction in the number of forms that South West businesses have to complete. Right now, every South West company has to submit 23 forms each year”, said Lee.
Also, the head of Bishop Fleming’s team specialising in charities and not-for-profit clients points out that many charities have lost money in Iceland, despite acting responsibly and spreading their risk. “They would like to see some form of compensation”, said Joe Scaife.
“Smaller charities who are partly funded by government would like to see more certainty when operating under government contracts, like 3-year contracts signed up before the funding begins.
“Many charities would also like a simplification of the tax rules that apply to them, like VAT and Gift Aid, to cut down on the administration that is required.”