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VAT Reduction: Tourism and Hospitality

Volume 693: debated on Tuesday 27 April 2021

What assessment his Department has made of the effect of the temporary reduction in VAT for businesses on the recovery of the (a) tourism and (b) hospitality sectors from the covid-19 outbreak. (914822)

The temporary reduced rate of VAT aims to support the cash flow and viability of around 150,000 businesses and to protect more than 2.4 million jobs. As was announced at the Budget, the Government extended the temporary reduced rate of VAT to 31 March 2022, with a phased return to the standard rate. This relief alone is estimated to be worth more than £7 billion to the tourism and hospitality sectors. Applying it permanently would come at a very significant cost to the Exchequer, and that would have to be balanced by increased taxes elsewhere or reductions in Government spending.

The past year has clearly illustrated just how important the hospitality and tourism sectors are not only to our economy, with the jobs and businesses they support in the supply chain, but to our overall wellbeing and the contribution they make to social mobility. As the chair of the all-party parliamentary group for hospitality and tourism, I know just how important this cut in VAT has been in supporting those businesses, but will the Treasury take another look at the merits of making this reduction permanent to further support the sector and the growth in jobs that it can create?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that this has been an incredibly challenging period for the tourism and hospitality sectors, and it is also right to recognise that many organisations within these sectors have benefited from the measures that I have described, including the extensions to the employment schemes, business rates holidays and the VAT reduction, as well as the very important wider restart grants and the additional restrictions grant. As these restrictions are lifted and demand for goods and services in these sectors resumes, temporary reliefs are being phased out and in time will be removed. Bridging that transition to a standard rate by applying a temporary 12.5% rate will help businesses to manage the change. We should want them to get back to normal trading and the support that they offer through that to their communities and the economy.